Micro-Plastics in the Ocean a Problem?: Experts Meet in London

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 fibres 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 23 to 25 July), 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.

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.

Micro-plastics are one of the degradation products of all plastics and may be small to very small, including just fibres 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.  
Source: IMO

Maritime Today

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

Maritime Reporter November 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds


Nakilat Damen Shipyards Qatar JV is 5

On 23 November 2015, Nakilat Damen Shipyards Qatar celebrated its first 5 years of operation. With 40 vessels delivered or under construction, the yard has proven

Deltamarin to Designs First LNG Handysize Bulk Carriers

Deltamarin Ltd proudly announces that it has signed a contract to design the world’s first LNG handysize bulk carriers, which will point the way towards greener shipping of commodities.

Wärtsilä's' Digital Services for Performance Enhancement

Wärtsilä, a global leader in complete lifecycle solutions for the marine and energy markets, launches a new service portfolio, Wärtsilä Genius services to help


Rickmers-Linie Completes Recertification

Rickmers-Linie, the Hamburg-based specialist in worldwide liner services for heavy lifts and project cargoes, has successfully completed audits by DNV GL which took place between 3 and 5 November.

Sandra Could Reach Hurricane Strength

Interests in southern portions of the Baja California peninsula have been advised to monitor the progress of Sandra, as Tropical Storm or Hurricane Watches may

Seagull's Software Tool for Benchmarking Seafarers Knowledge

Seagull Maritime has launched an advanced software tool able to benchmark seafarer knowledge levels, allowing shipowners and operators to compare their crew

Marine Science

Seagull's Software Tool for Benchmarking Seafarers Knowledge

Seagull Maritime has launched an advanced software tool able to benchmark seafarer knowledge levels, allowing shipowners and operators to compare their crew

CMA CGM Slashes Fleet CO2 Emissions by 50%

CMA CGM, a leading worldwide shipping Group, is pleased to announce a 50% improvement in its CO2 performance for its owned fleet. Thanks to an efficient environmental

BWM Convention Doesn't Resolve U.S. Issues - ICS

ICS notes that the IMO Secretary General has announced that the Ballast Water Management Convention will enter into force worldwide from 24 November 2016, following

Ocean Observation

Suez Canal Pacts with SCCT-Maersk

Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority (SCA), Vice Admiral Mohab Mamish, signed a settlement agreement with the Suez Canal Container Terminal (SCCT-Maersk), says Daily News Egypt.

USNS Maury Completes Acceptance Trials

USNS Maury (T-AGS 66) completed Acceptance Trials, November 6, following a week of extensive ship tests and underway events, included testing of major propulsion,

Hague Court Begins Hearing On South China Sea Issue

A United Nations arbitral tribunal in The Hague heard some of the Philippines’ territorial claims over the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea on Tuesday.

Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Naval Architecture Navigation Offshore Oil Pipelines Salvage Ship Electronics Ship Repair
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: 0.0915 sec (11 req/sec)