At this afternoon’s meeting panellists provided several comprehensive overviews regarding marine debris, plastics and microplastics, allowing for an overall description of the problem and the knowledge gaps present, sources of land and sea based debris, as well as insights on potentially scalable solutions that have previously been implemented.
It is clear that scientific research and data collection is an important element in tackling the problem of marine debris, with many knowledge and data gaps remaining: understanding the distribution, sources and types of plastics that make their way to oceans can help develop recovery mechanisms and the prevention of further plastic accumulation; learning the impacts of previously under-researched microplastics can help evaluate the effects on food chains and marine biodiversity; and innovative development of plastic alternatives can shift business production to ‘cleaner’ goods. Awareness and education also has the power of changing consumptive habits and waste disposal patterns to more eco-conscious practices. Along with shoreline clean-ups, the need for more efficient port waste disposal sites and incentive schemes for all target groups, including commercial and recreational fishing, has been shown to be a successful method for reducing material dumping at sea. Lessons-learnt should continue to be shared in order to learn the best-practices and help develop more efficient mechanisms to deal with plastic waste.
Meeting: Discussion panel: The environmental, social and economic dimensions of marine debris, plastics and microplastics and progress made in preventing, reducing and controlling pollution from marine debris, plastics and microplastics
Date/Time/Location: 13th of June, 2016; 15:00 – 18:00; Conference Room 1
Speakers: Mr. Peter Kershaw, Chairman of GESAMP and Chairman of the GESAMP Working Group on Microplastics; Ms. Lorna Inniss, Coordinator, Former Joint Coordinator of the Group of Experts of the Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, including Socioeconomic Aspects; Ms. Jenna Jambeck, Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering, University of Georgia; Ms. Kelsey Richardson, Former Marine Debris Consultant, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP); Peter Van den Dries, Policy Advisor, Flemish Waste Agency; Stefan Micallef, Director Marine Environment Division, International Maritime Organization
Written By: Lena Courcol, WIT Representative
Edited By: Modou Cham, WIT Administrator