The role of public participation GIS (PPGIS) and fishermen’s perceptions of risk in marine debris mitigation in the Bay of Fundy, Canada

From nano-plastics to large sunken vessels, marine debris presents a threat to humans and ecosystems worldwide. Fishermen’s knowledge of the sources of, and risks posed by medium to large debris derived from fishing, aquaculture, and other marine industries provides important context for debris mitigation. Public participation geographic information systems (PPGIS) can address these risks by integrating subjective and objective spatial data on human and environmental impacts and risks. We integrated fishermen’s perceptions and experiences with marine debris with spatial data using PPGIS. We developed a georeferenced database of fishermen’s experiences with marine debris, collected during focus groups and at various other meetings in Southwest New Brunswick. This layer was used to integrate baseline data with subjective perceptions of the ecological, economic, and navigational risks associated with marine debris in the Bay of Fundy, Canada. We also documented the physical, technical, political, and regulatory challenges to marine debris mitigation. These challenges highlight the social and environmental processes that complicate any projects that attempt to develop uncontested spatial representations of marine debris. Finally, we discuss the potential of PPGIS to address these challenges by fostering communication, coordinating various marine activities, helping stakeholders set priorities for clean-up, and implementing collaborative clean-up projects.

Allain J. Barnett, Melanie G. Wiber, Michael P. Rooney, Donna G. Curtis Maillet, Ocean & Coastal Management, Volume 133, December 2016, Pages 85–94

The article

Integrated Plastic Waste Management: Environmental and Improved Health Approaches

Plastics are integral part of society and have varied application. Plastics are composed of a network of molecular monomers bound together to form macromolecules. There are increasing concerns due to non degradability and generation of toxic gases on combustion during incineration. Due to fabrication of desired shape colour and specification convenient to customers there is increasing application in packaging, agriculture, automobiles and biomedical. They are indispensable to the modern generation due to development in information technology, intelligent and smart packaging system. Efforts are in progress for development of efficient and precise conversation of renewable raw materials into innovative polymeric product through recent technologies which are superior in terms of performance, environmental and cost perspectives. In rivers and at coastal regions the marine pollution is increasing at a faster rate due to indiscriminate disposal by the consumers. R&D studies are now centred for investigating whether consumption of plastic debris by marine organism translates into toxic exposures for people who consume seafood with particular relevance to plasticisers, stabilizers, heavy metals viz phthalates, BPA, lead cadmium, methyl mercury. Biological effects from pollution are linked with resulting economic effects and losses. A cornerstone of sustainable development is the establishment of affordable, effective and truly sustainable waste management practices in developing countries. (…)

P. Singh, V.P. Sharma, Procedia Environmental Sciences, Volume 35, 2016, Pages 692–700, Waste Management for Resource Utilisation

The article

Microplastic in surface waters of urban rivers: concentration, sources, and associated bacterial assemblages

The ecological dynamics of microplastic (<5 mm) are well documented in marine ecosystems, but the sources, abundance, and ecological role of microplastic in rivers are unknown and likely to be substantial. Microplastic fibers (e.g., synthetic fabrics) and pellets (e.g., abrasives in personal care products) are abundant in wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluent, and can serve as a point source of microplastic in rivers. The buoyancy, hydrophobic surface, and long transport distance of microplastic make it a novel substrate for the selection and dispersal of unique microbial assemblages. We measured microplastic concentration and bacterial assemblage composition on microplastic and natural surfaces upstream and downstream of WWTP effluent sites at nine rivers in Illinois, United States. Microplastic concentration was higher downstream of WWTP effluent outfall sites in all but two rivers. Pellets, fibers, and fragments were the dominant microplastic types, and polymers were identified as polypropylene, polyethylene, and polystyrene. Mean microplastic flux was 1,338,757 pieces per day, although the flux was highly variable among nine sites (min = 15,520 per day, max = 4,721,709 per day). High-throughput sequencing of 16S rRNA genes showed bacterial assemblage composition was significantly different among microplastic, seston, and water column substrates. Microplastic bacterial assemblages had lower taxon richness, diversity, and evenness than those on other substrates, and microplastic selected for taxa that may degrade plastic polymers (e.g., Pseudomonas) and those representing common human intestinal pathogens (e.g., Arcobacter). Effluent from WWTPs in rivers is an important component of the global plastic “life cycle,” and microplastic serves as a novel substrate that selects and transports distinct bacterial assemblages in urban rivers. Rates of microplastic deposition, consumption by stream biota, and the metabolic capacity of microplastic biofilms in rivers are unknown and merit further research.

McCormick, Amanda R.; Hoellein, Timothy J.; London, Maxwell G.; Hittie,
Joshua; Scott, John W.; Kelly, John J., Ecosphere, Volume 7, Issue 11, November 2016, e01556

The article

Marine litter, future prospects for research

As far back as 1870, i.e., about 150 years ago, Jules Verne described the accumulation of debris in the convergence zone of the North Atlantic Ocean in his famous novel entitled “Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea.” Many scientific reports have addressed this topic since and our main concern today is the ever increasing volume of marine litter invading the oceans in various and complex ways. One of the current main challenges is assessing the final destination of this litter. To date, its adverse effects on marine life have only occasionally been investigated and many questions remain unanswered. In addition to efforts to monitor and reduce litter, recent literature has underlined the scientific community’s focus on specific issues such as (i) the evaluation of sources and inputs, (ii) transport and distribution at sea, (iii) the transport of litter and, in particular, plastics within the food web, and (iv) the types of chemicals and organisms likely to sorb or settle on debris and how they can be rafted over long distances. It is important to address these questions in a more detailed manner.

F. Galgani, Frontiers in Marine Science, 5 pages, October 2015

The article

Compostable and edible packaging: the companies waging war on plastic

However, more sustainable alternatives have proved controversial. Earlier this year the UN’s chief scientist, Jacqueline McGlade, described biodegradable plastics as “well-intentioned but wrong” since those that end up the oceans do not have the right conditions to break down.

Other plastics, including so-called oxo-degradables (pdf), break down into microplastics, which are also thought to be highly damaging if they find their way into the ocean.

Now a new generation of plastic makers is working to tackle the global plastic waste crisis head on by developing home-compostable plastics. (…) (, October 2016)

The news

The cotton buds beach: Marine litter assessment along the Tyrrhenian coast of central Italy following the marine strategy framework directive criteria

We assessed the annual accumulation rates of beach litter on the Tyrrhenian coast of central Italy, providing the characterization of litter following European standardized guidelines. Three different sites of a beach were sampled seasonally from spring 2014 to winter 2015. A total of 31,739 items were removed and classified into 103 categories. Plastic represented the majority (94.4%) of the collected items. We detected temporal and spatial differences in the abundance and composition of litter between seasons and between sites. Furthermore, we found that plastic cotton bud sticks composed > 30% of the total amount of litter and, together with plastic and polystyrene pieces, made up > 70% of the total items. Finally, our results led us to propose that the most effective strategy to reduce litter pollution is to devise specific management procedures focusing on the most abundant items.

Gianluca Poeta, Corrado Battisti, Manuele Bazzichetto, Alicia T.R. Acosta, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Available online 22 September 2016, In Press

The article