LIFE Project Cover Photo

Saving SeaBirds from marine Litter

Reference: LIFE20 GIE/FR/000114 | Acronym: LIFE SeaBiL



It is estimated that more than 150 million tonnes of plastics have accumulated in the world's oceans. According to recent studies, by 2040 the flow of plastic waste into the ocean could reach 29 million tonnes per year, equivalent to 50 kg of plastic for every metre of coastline worldwide.

Every year, at least 8 million tonnes of plastics reach the oceans, including 150,000-500,000 tonnes in the EU. Around 10% of total marine litter is estimated to come from litter left on the coast. Beach users produce a daily average of 1 litre of waste per person, according to the French Ministry for the Environment. Within the Ebro Delta National Park in Spain, one of the project’s pilot areas, 16 tonnes of waste is collected every year. 

While the negative effects of waste on ecosystems are widely recognised, it is still difficult to estimate the scale of its impact. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, plastic waste causes the death of more than 1 million seabirds per year. It is estimated that by 2050, more than 99% of seabirds will be impacted by this type of pollution. The effects of litter on seabirds are manifold: young birds becoming entangled in litter and found dead in their nests; stranding of birds caught or mutilated by plastic filaments/pieces; and birds killed by ingesting plastic debris (accidentally or because it is confused with food) causing intoxication, blockages and perforation.


The LIFE SeaBiL project’s aim is to reduce the direct and indirect impact of marine litter on seabirds which depend on the coastline and offshore environment. This will be achieved through better information and governance. The project involves 5 pilot sites in France, Portugal and Spain.

The specific objectives are to:    

  • Improve the coordination of beach cleaning actions and the monitoring of stranded birds by strengthening the skills of those involved and by setting up a transnational network;
  • Consolidate the acquisition of knowledge on the impact of plastic waste on seabirds and define an indicator species for Good Environmental Status (GES), in accordance with the EU’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD);
  • Improve the identification of marine litter sources in order to optimise the management and prevention of waste in Natura 2000 areas; and
  • Raise awareness amongst the general public on the issue of marine litter and seabirds in Natura 2000 areas.


Expected results:

  • Optimised mobile application in 4 languages for the census of stranded birds;
  • "Low footprint" guide for natural area managers and organisers of beach clean-up actions;
  • Online training courses for managers of natural areas and beach clean-up organisers;
  • Managers and organisers of beach clean-ups expected to change their practices and use project tools;
  • 50 beach clean-up initiatives carried out, involving 1,000 volunteers;
  • 5 local and 3 national monitoring networks for stranded birds, plus 1 transnational network;
  • Establishment of a transnational tissue bank hosted by the LIENSs laboratory (tissue from 180 birds collected and analysed; at least 60 individuals per country);
  • Identification of a GES indicator species for a MSFD monitoring programme;
  • Establishment of 3 local marine litter repositories and 2 interoperable databases;
  • Beach litter monitoring carried out using OSPAR (Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic) guidelines at least once on each beach site involved in Spain (3 sites, 4 times per year);
  • New OSPAR beach litter monitoring protocol tested at 3 beaches in France;
  • Guide for identifying waste sources and solutions distributed to managers and public authorities;
  • Information stands and distribution of goodies (beach ashtrays, water bottles, organic cotton bags), including some for schools (reusable lunch boxes and small bottles);
  • 100 schoolchildren participating in beach clean-ups; and
  • Training courses and online tutorials disseminated to managers of natural areas and Natura 2000 sites.


Reference: LIFE20 GIE/FR/000114
Acronym: LIFE SeaBiL
Start Date: 04/10/2021
End Date: 30/09/2024
Total Eligible Budget: 1,076,352 €
EU Contribution: 576,822 €
Project Location:


Coordinating Beneficiary: Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux
Legal Status: PNC
Address: Fonderies Royales, 8 rue du Dr Pujos, 17305, ROCHEFORT CEDEX, France
Contact Person: Guillaume Le Hetet
Email: Send Email
Website: Visit Website

LIFE Project Map



  • Awareness raising - Information
  • Marine and Coastal management
  • Pollutants reduction
  • Birds
  • Packaging and plastic waste
  • Marine


  • marine reserve
  • biodiversity
  • marine ecosystem
  • environmental awareness
  • public awareness campaign
  • marine pollution
  • marine environment
  • remediation


  • OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment in the North-East Atlantic of 1992 (further to earlier versions of 1972 and 1974)


Name Type
LRUniv(La Rochelle University), France Participant
SPEA(Sociedade Portuguesa para o Estudo das Aves), Portugal Participant
UAL(University of Almeria), Spain Participant
SEO(Sociedad Española de Ornitología/Birdlife), Spain Participant
Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux Coordinator