Consultancy on the feasibility of litter clean-ups on the seabed


Call for Proposals – Terms of Reference 

About Oceana 

Oceana is the largest international advocacy organisation dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one-third of the world’s wild fish catch. With more than 225 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution, and the killing of threatened species like turtles and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. Together, we can protect the world’s ocean. For more information, visit 

Through our Plastics campaign in Europe, Oceana aims to contribute to stronger legislation that reduces the use of plastics, notably single-use plastics, and thereby prevents them from reaching and polluting the ocean. Our main focus is on legislation in Denmark and Spain, while we also engage in selected activities at the EU level. 


An enormous quantity of plastics enters the ocean each year. Most of this marine litter ends up on the bottom of the sea. Geomorphological features act as ‘plastic traps’ that concentrate debris, and this waste eventually reaches abyssal plains. For these reasons, actions such as conducting beach clean-ups, removing plastic from the ocean surface, and retrieving plastics from harbours or fishing grounds, are far from sufficient for solving the problem. Measures such as reducing unnecessary plastics, reusing plastic materials and improving waste collection are therefore more efficient than attempts to clean up plastics after they have reached the marine environment.  

We are seeking research that assesses the economic costs, technical limitations, and ecological damage associated with methods of cleaning up/removing plastic from the marine environment. Such information is essential for demonstrating, based on facts, that plastic clean-ups will not solve the plastic pollution crisis. 


The consultant will assess what technologies and methodologies can be used to remove plastic litter from the seabed in different depth ranges between 0 metres and the abyssal zone. These will be selective methods, and will not include “fishing for litter” approaches such as through bottom trawling. Oceana will need to confirm agreement with the selection before moving ahead.  

Specifically, the consultant will: 

1. Review existing methods and technologies available on the market that may be used to remove plastic litter from the seabed, considering different depth ranges (Annex I.a): describe briefly how these techniques or devices work, how easy they are to find on the market, estimated costs for their purchase/rental and use, and associated advantages and limitations (e.g., areas where they can be applied, time needed, etc.). 

2. For each depth range and method/technology, estimate costs of cleaning up seabed plastics considering the factors listed in Annex I.b, standardised (e.g., by area) to allow comparisons among methods/technologies/depth ranges: 

– State the assumptions made (e.g., distance from coast, weather conditions)

– Calculate the estimated costs as fully as possible, broken down to reflect all stages of the process (e.g., planning, execution, etc.) and required costs (e.g., vessel, staff/crew, equipment, etc.), according to depth ranges.  

– If costs cannot be calculated for some of the factors in Annex I.b, provide a qualitative explanation about their impact on the cost of plastic removal and its feasibility. 

– If some factors are unlikely to have an impact, provide justification.  

Include other potential considerations that are relevant and explain their potential impacts.  

3. Assess the potential environmental damage that may be caused by each method or technology. 

4. Identify and describe examples of previous or ongoing projects (at local, national, EU, or international level) that have used the specific methods and technologies, and assess their success or weaknesses. 

5. Prepare a report based on the above information, as described below, under Deliverables. 



a) The consultant will deliver a report, in English, that presents the information requested above, under Activities 

The report’s purpose is to provide detailed information to support Oceana’s advocacy strategies under the Plastics campaign. The document should be practical, not theoretical, but include relevant facts and figures, and full references for sources of information consulted. 

Professional layout is not necessary. Excel spreadsheets can be provided as a complement to the text, particularly to provide the detailed breakdown of estimated costs of clean-up methods/technologies. Oceana will include the information from the consultant’s report in a broader Oceana report, acknowledging the authorship of the information provided by the consultant.   

b) The consultant will participate in the following meetings/videocalls with Oceana staff: 

– Kick-off meeting for Oceana to explain and provide any necessary clarifications about the aims, scope, and structure of the report. 

– Final debriefing meeting for the consultant to explain the main outcomes of the report.

These meetings will be held in English preferably. 

Ad-hoc calls or other communications can also be held to clarify any doubts that arise during the course of the research and preparation of the report. Any enquiries should be directed to Oceana’s point of contact for this work, Natividad Sánchez ( 

4. Proposals and timeline 

Interested consultants should send proposals to Natividad Sánchez (, including: 

– A description of their research approach, which specifies for which bullet points in Annex I.b quantitative estimations will be provided, and for which ones only a qualitative professional opinion will be given. 

– Their qualifications for this research (i.e., a CV or summary of their experience in related fields). 

– The estimated fee for the project, including all associated costs. 


– 27 May – Proposals due from potential consultants 

– 3 June –  Consultant selected by Oceana 

– 22 June– Contract awarded, and consultancy begins 

– 12 July  – Draft text is submitted to Oceana for preliminary assessment purposes.  

– 22 July, 2022  – Final report is submitted to Oceana.  


5. Data protection 

FUNDACION OCEANA is the Controller of the Data Subject’s personal data and informs him/her that these data shall be processed in accordance with the provisions of Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of 27 April (GDPR) and the Organic Law 3/2018 of 5 December (LOPDGDD), for a legitimate interest of the Controller, providing the following information on the processing:  

– Purpose of the processing: to include the Data Subject in the personnel selection processes, analysing the applicant’s profile with the aim of selecting the best candidate for the Controller’s vacancy.  

– Legitimacy of the processing: unequivocal consent clearly indicated by the Data Subject.  

– Data storage criteria: data will be stored for a maximum period of one year, after which the data will be erased, guaranteeing full respect for confidentiality both in the processing and subsequent destruction. To this effect, once this period has elapsed, and if you wish to continue participating in the Controller’s selection processes, please send us your CV again.  

– Updating data: in the event of any modification to your data, please inform us in writing as soon as possible in order to keep your data duly updated.  

– Data disclosure: Your data may be communicated to third parties because they are necessary to achieve the purpose of the treatment, or by legal obligation.  

– Rights of the Data Subject: 

-Right to withdraw consent at any time.  

– Right of access, rectification, portability and erasure of data and the limitation or objection to their processing.  

– The right to file a claim with the Spanish Supervisory Authority ( if you consider that the processing does not comply with the current legislation.  

– Contact information to exercise their rights: FUNDACION OCEANA. GRAN VIA, 62 – 7 – 28013 MADRID (Madrid). Email:  



Analysis of factors affecting the plastic clean-up and viability of the removal 

*All the estimated costs must discard the use of trawling engines for retrieving the litter from the seabed due to its negative impact on the marine ecosystem. 

*Oceana can provide sample tables to enter the estimated expenses for each depth range. 

a) Depth range 

– 0-40 metres deep  

– Divers and/or ROV 

– Clean-up equipment (bags and boxes) 

– Boat (hyperbaric chamber, containers for litter) 

– 40-200 metres deep  

– ROV, divers in some cases  

– Submarines  

– Clean-up equipment  

– Boat 

– 200-1000 metres deep 

– ROV 

– Submarines/bathyscaphes  

– Clean-up equipment  

– Boat  

> 1000 metres deep 

– ROV  

– Submarines/bathyscaphes  

– Clean-up equipment  

– Boat 

Costs need to be calculated for the needs of each depth range and include: 

– Boat cost (fuel, insurances, meals, mooring, etc.), considering variations in size an equipment required (e.g. containers for litter, winches, cranes, A-frame, power supply for ROV, DPS, etc.) 

– Staff (crew, technicians, divers, etc.) 

– Equipment (diving material, rebreathers, hyperbaric chamber, bags, nets, drop cameras, sonars, ROV, etc.) 


b) Factors to be considered that may impact the costs and likelihood of success  

Distance from coast/harbour 

Time for preparations 

– Project planning  

– At sea activities’ preparation 

– Permitting processes 

– Transport to port reception facilities 



(Consider factors such as need for periodical clean-ups, risk of entanglement for the removal equipment, difficulties to deploy it, different gradients, litter entangled or moving, deep-sea currents, existence of caves, sedimentation, etc.) 

Submarine canyons, trenches, channels, etc. 

– Submarine seamounts and other elevations 

– Geological reefs  

– Others: pockmarks, mud volcanoes, brine pools… 

– Sandy bottoms 

– Muddy bottoms 

– Marine currents 

(Consider factors such as spread/accumulation of litter, difficulties to retrieve it, boat and ROV manoeuvrability)  

– Litter composition 

– Abundance and density in the area 

– Typology and size 

– Hard plastic, films, bags, containers…  

– Large or small objects 

– Weight 


Time of the year  

– Bad weather, ice, currents, eutrophication, maritime traffic… 

Carbon footprint of the boat and other components of the project.