The State of Beach Litter Pollution during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Case Study of the Israeli Coasts

Yael Segal, Yaron Gertner, Guy Sisma-Ventura, Dror Zurel, Barak Herut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This research examines the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on marine litter pollution along the Israeli coast, which constitutes a terminal area in the Mediterranean Sea large-scale circulation. Surveys for litter were conducted on four beaches along the Israeli Mediterranean coast. Sampling was done pre-pandemic in June, September, and December of 2019; during the first year of the pandemic in March, June, September, and December of 2020; and during the second year of the pandemic in March 2021. The study revealed that during the first year of the pandemic, beach litter concentration was reduced by 47 ± 27% on all beaches. The decrease in beach litter continued during the second year on most beaches (34 ± 22% reduction) and was most observable for plastic products, which have a high potential to float and travel long distances. The decline in beach litter concentration in the Israeli beaches during the pandemic was statistically significant. The barcode analysis indicates the appearance of non-Israeli debris on the shores (22-81% pre-COVID-19 and 5-47% during-COVID-19), which supports the assumption that the reduction in marine litter pollution was affected by the decline in beach activity both locally and in other coastal neighboring countries. An additional effect of the pandemic was the appearance of single-use plastic masks and gloves in April 2020, influenced by the epidemic’s regulations and restrictions. Despite the decline in beach marine litter concentration during COVID-19, plastic pollution is a high concern in this heavily populated coastal region. Our data set provides an indication for the potential of local and regional regulations to reduce further beach litter pollution and a baseline for continuous monitoring of these processes.Highlights The impact of COVID-19 on beach litter pollution along Israel’s coast was studied Significant decline in beach litter concentration during the Covid-19 pandemic. Barcode analysis reveals debris is 22-57% from non-local sources. Litter associated with COVID-19 was identified for the first time just as pandemic start.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCoastal Management
StateAccepted/In press - 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • beach litter
  • COVID-19
  • eastern Mediterranean
  • Israeli coast
  • plastic pollution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Science (all)


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