Standardised beach litter surveys at subantarctic Marion Island for the period 1996 to 1998 are reported, and compared to surveys done in 1984 and 1995, prior to the onset of unregulated illegal fishing in this area. An exponential increase in the litter accumulation was noted in annual accumulation studies at designated beaches. Styrofoam pieces and plastic bottles showed the largest increases while fishing equipment also doubled during this period. An increase in the number and proportion of Spanish script items was noted, while French items only appeared after the onset of illegal fishing. Monthly accumulation showed a strong seasonal effect, which also corresponded to periods of reported illegal fishing. Of the litter iteITIS that could identified to their place of origin, most were from South America, while Oriental and French items also featured significantly. French items are noteworthy in light of reports of illegal fishing vessels using Port Louis, Mauritius, to land catches and resupply. A fast turnover rate of litter and very little accumulation effect was recorded in a beach litter retention study.