Assessment of marine debris on the coastal wetland of Martil in the North-East of Morocco

Plastic waste at the coastal wetland in Martil beach in the North-East of Morocco is one of the problems that have appeared recently. This study aims to characterize the marine debris in the coast of Martil during the year 2015. The sampling is seasonally by type and size. The result shows, for the macro debris, the abundance of plastic (57%), lumber and paper (21.93%), cloth and fabric (7.8%), glass (5.42%), metal (4.40%), and rubber (3.4%). Micro debris is also present in the area in several forms such as wood, plants, and others by 75,63%. This was followed by the foam (26,95%), line (7,8%), and the film (1,23%). The seasonal variation (S1: January–March and S3: July to September) are the most polluted months of the year. The sources of marine debris are mainly tourism (beach users), land (run off), and commercial fishing in the four seasons of the year.

Adel Alshawafi, Mohamed Analla, Ebrahim Alwashali, Mustapha Aksissou, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 117, Issues 1–2, 15 April 2017, Pages 302–310

The article

Coastal debris analysis in beaches of Chonburi Province, eastern of Thailand as implications for coastal conservation

This study quantified coastal debris along 3 beaches (Angsila, Bangsaen, Samaesarn) in eastern coast of Thailand. Debris samples were collected from lower and upper strata of these beaches during wet and dry seasons. The results showed that Bangsaen had the highest average debris density (15.5 m− 2) followed by Samaesarn (8.10 m− 2), and Angsila (5.54 m− 2). Among the 12 debris categories, the most abundant debris type was plastics (> 45% of the total debris) in all beach locations. Coastal debris distribution was related to economic activities in the vicinity. Fishery and shell-fish aquaculture activities were primary sources of debris in Angsila while tourism activities were main sources in Bangsaen and Samaesarn. Site-specific pollution control mechanisms (environmental awareness, reuse and recycling) are recommended to reduce public littering. Management actions in Angsila should focus on fishery and shell-fish culture practices, while Bangsaen and Samaesarn should be directed toward leisure activities promoting waste management.

Gajahin Gamage Nadeeka Thushari, Suchana Chavanich, Amararatne Yakupitiyage, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Volume 116, Issues 1–2, 15 March 2017, Pages 121–129

The article

To what extent are microplastics from the open ocean weathered?

It is necessary to better characterize plastic marine debris in order to understand its fate in the environment and interaction with organisms, the most common type of debris being made of polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP). In this work, plastic debris was collected in the North Atlantic sub-tropical gyre during the Expedition 7th Continent sea campaign and consisted mainly in PE. While the mechanisms of PE photodegradation and biodegradation in controlled laboratory conditions are well known, plastic weathering in the environment is not well understood. This is a difficult task to examine because debris comes from a variety of manufactured objects, the original compositions and properties of which vary considerably. A statistical approach was therefore used to compare four sample sets: reference PE, manufactured objects, mesoplastics (5–20 mm) and microplastics (0.3–5 mm). Infrared spectroscopy showed that the surface of all debris presented a higher oxidation state than the reference samples. Differential scanning calorimetry analysis revealed that the microplastics were more crystalline contrarily to the mesoplastics which were similar to references samples. Size exclusion chromatography showed that the molar mass decreased from the references to meso- and microplastics, revealing a clear degradation of the polymer chains. It was thus concluded that the morphology of marine microplastic was much altered and that an unambiguous shortening of the polymer chains took place even for this supposedly robust and inert polymer.

Alexandra ter Halle, Lucie Ladirat, Marion Martignac, Anne Françoise Mingotaud, Olivier Boyron, Emile Perez, Environmental Pollution, Volume 227, August 2017, Pages 167–174

The article

Is the Montreal Protocol a model that can help solve the global marine plastic debris problem?

The impacts of plastic debris on the marine environment have gained the attention of the global community. Although the plastic debris problem presents in the oceans, the failure to control land-based plastic waste is the primary cause of these marine environmental impacts. Plastics in the ocean are mainly a land policy issue, yet the regulation of marine plastic debris from land-based sources is a substantial gap within the international policy framework. Regulating different plastics at the final product level is difficult to implement. Instead, the Montreal Protocol may serve as a model to protect the global ocean common, by reducing the production of virgin material within the plastics industry and by regulating both the polymers and chemical additives as controlled substances at a global level. Similar to the Montreal Protocol, national production and consumption of this virgin content can be calculated, providing an opportunity for the introduction of phased targets to reduce and eliminate the agreed substances to be controlled. The international trade of feedstock materials that do not meet the agreed minimum standards can be restricted. The aim of such an agreement would be to encourage private investment in the collection, sorting and recycling of post-consumer material for reuse as feedstock, thereby contributing to the circular economy. The proposed model is not without its challenges, particularly when calculating costs and benefits, but is worthy of further consideration by the international community in the face of the global threats posed to the ocean by plastics.

Karen Raubenheimer, Alistair McIlgorm, Marine Policy, Volume 81, July 2017, Pages 322–329

The article

Fugacity analysis of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons between microplastics and seawater

Recently, the accumulation of plastic debris in the marine environment has become a great concern worldwide. Although plastics are biologically and chemically inert, plastic debris has been suspected of causing adverse effects on ecosystems due to the increase in reactivity by size reduction and/or micropollutants associated with plastics. Because of the high sorption capacity of microplastics toward organic micropollutants, it is suspected that microplastics may play roles in the distribution and fate of micropollutants. In order to quantitatively evaluate the “net flow” of environmental contaminants in water-plastic-organism systems, a fugacity analysis was conducted using concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in open oceans and in polyethylene as a representative material of plastic debris. Ratio of fugacity in polyethylene to that in seawater showed a decreasing trend with increasing partition coefficient between polyethylene and seawater (KPE/sw). This indicates that phase equilibrium between polyethylene and seawater is not attained for higher molecular weight PAHs. Disequilibrium of high molecular weight PAHs suggests that transfer from seawater to plastic debris is thermodynamically driven and the role of plastic debris as a vector to transfer them to living organisms would be minimal. However, additives may slowly migrate from plastics into the environment causing potentially serious effects on ecosystems.

Hwang Lee, Sein Chang, Seung-Kyu Kim, Jung-Hwan Kwon, Ocean Science Journal, March 2017, Volume 52, Issue 1, pp 43–55

The article

Methods of analysing chemicals associated with microplastics: a review

Microplastics have become a global environmental concern because of their widespread presence in coastal areas, the open ocean, polar regions, and various marine organisms. A key concern is whether plastic marine debris and its small fragments are a source or carrier of hazardous chemicals to marine environments and organisms. However, research on chemicals associated with microplastics has been limited. To fill this knowledge gap, recently, many attempts have been made to identify and quantify chemicals in plastic marine debris and microplastics. However, analytical strategies and methodologies have not been discussed in detail. In this article, we reviewed the analytical approaches and methods applied to the chemical analysis of microplastics and plastic debris by reviewing the available literature on plastic samples collected from the field or deployed in the field containing environmentally relevant chemical concentrations. Based on this review, we discussed the limitation of current information and future perspectives for microplastic-associated chemical analyses.

The article

Naval exercises add trillions of pieces of plastic debris to oceans

For the next two decades, the U.S. Navy will inject hundreds of thousands of pounds of flares and billions of metal-coated glass fibers into ocean waters off the coasts of Washington and Oregon.

When the last two decades are added in, the Navy will have left behind more than half a million pounds of flares and trillions of microfibers of chaff (a radar countermeasure dropped by aircraft) by the year 2037.

Additionally, as Truthout previously reported, upcoming naval exercises will inject 20,000 tons of heavy metals and explosives into the seas. (…) (alternet.org, 6/04/2017)

The news