The MSc research project undertaken consists of two complementary sections. The first aims to understand the current state of marine litter-fauna interactions and impacts research with an emphasis on those occurring in submarine canyons. Currently, unstandardised data collection and reporting of such interactions means that global comparison, collaboration, and policy creation is difficult. As such, through a critical literature review, I have recorded litter-fauna interactions and resulting impacts that have been discussed and reported. From the comprehensive dataset compiled, I created 6 main groupings under which all interactions fall. This standardised framework will allow researchers to report interactions observed and compare them with worldwide data to better uncover trends in litter-fauna interactions and inform policy.
The second section of the research project is a case study for the use of the standardised framework. I have annotated litter-fauna interactions occurring within footage of The Canyons Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ), in offshore waters southwest of England. From this analysis, the interactions observed will be analysed, and impacts resulting from interactions will be suggested. The Canyons includes 4 features of conservation importance, only one of which has been assessed for its sensitivity to the pressure of litter. As such, the analysis of litter-fauna interactions and resulting impacts in The Canyons will inform future vulnerability and sensitivity assessments of the MCZ.