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
 


Environmental

Shenzhen Port to Adopt China ECA Regulation

China's Shenzhen port is set to to adopt requirements for ships at berth requiring to burn marine fuel with sulfur content not exceeding 0.5 percent starting October this year,

SMM 2016: World Premieres from around the Globe

Some 50,000 trade visitors from the whole of the world are expected in Hamburg for the start of SMM in less than two weeks. And once again, it is fully booked – with a total of more than 2,

South Asia Meet on Oil, Chemical Spill Contingency Plan

A meeting to update South Asia’s regional plan for oil and chemical pollution preparedness and response is underway in Male, Maldives (22-25 August), informs  International

Marine Science

Global Climate Change Threatens Papahānaumokuākea Marine

Despite its remote location in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument faces a looming threat of global climate change that

SC Fisheries Research Vessel Repowered

A fisheries research vessel operated by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), was recently repowered with new eco-friendly fuel-efficient engines from Volvo Penta.

Fighting Barnacle Buildup with Biology

New research solves a mystery behind the gunk that sticks to the bottoms of ships.   The coating of barnacles and other growth along the bottoms of vessels is more than just an eyesore.

Ocean Observation

South Asia Meet on Oil, Chemical Spill Contingency Plan

A meeting to update South Asia’s regional plan for oil and chemical pollution preparedness and response is underway in Male, Maldives (22-25 August), informs  International

Global Climate Change Threatens Papahānaumokuākea Marine

Despite its remote location in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument faces a looming threat of global climate change that

Indonesia to Change Name of South China Sea to Natuna Sea

President of Indonesia Joko Widodo, commonly known as Jokowi,  has vowed to transform Indonesia, which includes 17,000 islands into a ‘maritime power’, and also

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Navigation Offshore Oil Pipelines Pod Propulsion Port Authority Ship Electronics Ship Simulators
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: 0.0676 sec (15 req/sec)