Experts Assess Micro-plastics in Marine Environment

MarineLink.com
Monday, July 29, 2013

International experts have met in London to review the growing problems in the marine environment caused by micro-plastics – tiny pieces of plastic or fibers which may act as a pathway for persistent, bio-accumulating and toxic substances entering the food chain.

The experts form a key working group (WG-40) under the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP), an advisory body that advises the United Nations (UN) system on the scientific aspects of marine environmental protection. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is the Administrative Secretariat of GESAMP, which has, to date, produced more than 85 reports, including numerous in-depth technical studies contributing to the assessment on the state of the global marine environment.

The working group, which was meeting for its second session (from July, 23-25), completed a draft assessment report, covering the inputs of plastics and micro-plastics into the ocean, from land- and sea-based human activities; the mechanisms and rates of particle degradation and fragmentation; the processes controlling particle transport and accumulation; the interaction of micro-plastics with organisms, and potential physical and chemical impacts; and public perceptions about marine litter in general and micro-plastics in particular.

Further meetings will be held in 2013 and 2014, with a view to presenting the final global assessment report on micro plastics in the ocean at the Second International Ocean Research Conference in Barcelona, in November 2014.

The principal audience for the assessment consists of the five UN Agencies supporting the work (IMO, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (UNESCO-IOC), as the lead Agency). The group recognized that the results will also be of interest to many other stakeholders, including intergovernmental bodies, regional seas organizations, maritime and relevant land-based sectors, industry, conservation bodies, scientists and the general public.

The workshop brought together experts in chemistry, ecology, eco-toxicology, human toxicology, materials science, physical oceanography, psychology, science-policy interface, social media and waste management, from nine countries on five continents, and observers from PlasticsEurope and the American Chemistry Council.

Plastic debris comes in a wide variety of sizes and compositions and has been found throughout the world’s oceans, carried by ocean currents and biological vectors, such as in the stomach contents of fish, mammals and birds. Plastics degrade extremely slowly in the open ocean, partly due to UV absorption by seawater and relatively low temperatures. The dumping of plastics into the sea from ships is prohibited under international treaties.

The potential problems of micro-plastics n the marine environment were brought to the attention of GESAMP in 2010. Micro-plastics are one of the degradation products of all plastics and may be small to very small, including just fibers or strands, with a range of compositions. They tend to fall into one of two categories: “primary” micro-plastic resin pellets used in the plastics industry, and in certain applications such as industrial abrasives and skin-care products; and “secondary” micro-plastics resulting from the degradation and breakdown of larger items, including so-called biodegradable plastics.

While micro-plastics may not pose an obvious risk to marine life – such as entanglement – due to the small size, nonetheless they may pose chemical or physical risks, especially on micro-fauna. Micro-plastics may also contribute to the transfer of pollutants from seawater to marine life.

imo.org
 

Maritime Today


The Maritime Industry's original and most viewed E-News Service

Maritime Reporter May 2016 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Environmental

Design Concept: Zero Emissions Cargo Ship

The designs for a multi access zero emissions cargo ship will be unveiled at the 5th Natural Propulsion Seminar in Wageningen, Netherlands, on Tuesday, May 24. The

First Cruise Company Fined under Australia’s New Fuel Rules

Australia’s NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has fined Carnival PLC $15,000 after one of its P&O Cruises ships, the Pacific Jewel, breached new low sulfur fuel regulations in Sydney Harbour.

HUMMEL LNG Hybrid Barge Begins Second Season

For over one year the HUMMEL has been contributing to improved air quality at the port of Hamburg. Becker Marine Systems’ LNG Hybrid Barge will also be supplying

Ocean Observation

FIO’s New Research Vessel Enters Build Phase

The 78’ research vessel designed and engineered by Boksa Marine Design (BMD) in 2015 is headed to the building phase beginning in June.   BMD contracted with

Atlantic Hurricane Season Could be More Active

The Atlantic Ocean could be gearing up for an active hurricane season, meaning North American residents may want to pay attention. In recent years, single hurricanes

Japan Weather Association to Provide ShipDC with Marine Weather Info

The database service operated by ClassNK’s wholly owned subsidiary Ship Data Center (ShipDC) has been set to receive marine weather information from Japan Weather Association.

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Offshore Oil Pipelines Pod Propulsion Ship Electronics Ship Repair Ship Simulators Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Sonar
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.0538 sec (19 req/sec)