First observation on neustonic plastics in waters off NW Spain (spring 2013 and 2014)

This paper examines the presence and distribution of plastic particles in waters off the NW Spanish Atlantic coast. A pilot sampling program was initiated in 2013 to study the presence of plastic particles in surface waters. A total of 41 neuston samples were collected using a manta trawl fitted with a 333 μm mesh (21 samples in 2013 and 20 samples in 2014). Several types of plastic particles were observed in 95% of the stations. A total of 1463 plastic microparticles (<5 mm; mps) and 208 mesoparticles (>5 mm and <20 mm; MPS) were counted. Average concentrations recorded were 0.034 ± 0.032 and 0.176 ± 0.278 mps m−2 and 0.005 ± 0.005 and 0.028 ± 0.043 MPS m−2, respectively for 2013 and 2014.

Results on this emerging topic are discussed as a preliminary step towards implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive in the region. Harmonization of protocols for determination of plastic particles is urgently needed in order to compare results between regions and to ensure coherence in the implementation of the MSFD. This aspect is also important at a worldwide scale.

Jesus Gago, Maryvonne Henry, François Galgani, Marine Environmental Research, Volume 111, Pages 27–33, October 2015

The article

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