Spatial distribution of marine debris on the seafloor of Moroccan waters

Marine debris pollution is considered as a worldwide problem and a direct threat to the environment, economy and human health. In this paper, we provide the first quantitative assessment of debris on the seafloor of the southern part of the economic exclusive waters of Morocco. The data were collected in a scientific trawl survey carried out from 5 to 25 October 2014 between (26N) to (21N) covering different stratums of depths (from 10 to 266 m) and following a sampling network of 100 stations distributed randomly in the study area. A total of 603 kg of debris was collected and sorted into five main categories: plastic, metal, rubber, textiles and glass. Over 50% of collected items was made by plastic, 94% of them are the plastic fishing gear used to capture the Octopus vulgaris. The analysis of the distribution shows that anthropogenic debris is present in the majority of the prospected area (∼ 47,541 km2) with different densities ranging from 0 to 1768 (± 298,15) kg/km2. The spatial autocorrelation approach using GIS shows that the concentration of this debris is correlated very well with a set of factors such as the proximity to fishing activity sites. Moreover, the mechanism of transportation and dispersion was influenced by the hydrodynamic properties of the region.

S. Loulad, R. Houssa, H Rhinane and al., Marine Pollution Bulletin, Available online 24 July 2017, In Press, Corrected Proof

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Marine litter from beach-based sources: Case study of an Eastern Mediterranean coastal town

Marine litter has been a serious and growing problem for some decades now. Yet, there is still much speculation among researchers, policy makers and planners about how to tackle marine litter from land-based sources. This paper provides insights into approaches for managing marine litter by reporting and analyzing survey results of litter dispersal and makeup from three areas along an Arab-Israeli coastal town in view of other recent studies conducted around the Mediterranean Sea. Based on our results and analysis, we posit that bathing beach activities should be a high priority for waste managers as a point of intervention and beach-goers must be encouraged to take a more active role in keeping beaches clean. Further, plastic fragments on the beach should be targeted as a first priority for prevention (and cleanup) of marine litter with plastic bottle caps being a high priority to be targeted among plastics. More survey research is needed on non-plastic litter composition for which amounts and geographic dispersal in the region vary greatly from place to place along Mediterranean shores. In general, findings of this study lead us to recommend exploring persuasive beach trash can design coupled with greater enforcement for short term waste management intervention while considering the local socio-economic and institutional context further for long-term efforts.

M. E. Portman, R. E. Brennan, Waste Management, Available online 7 August 2017, In Press, Corrected Proof

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Microplastic ingestion by Mullus surmuletus Linnaeus, 1758 fish and its potential for causing oxidative stress

A total of 417 striped red mullet, Mullus surmuletus, were analyzed to study microplastic ingestion and livers of fish were assessed to study effects of microplastics. Nearly one third (27.30%) of the individuals were quantified to ingest microplastics although there was no evidence of oxidative stress or cellular damage in the liver of fish which had ingested microplastics. A small increase in the activity of glutathione S-transferase (GST) of M. surmuletus was detected which could be suggesting an induction of the detoxification systems but these findings should be tested in laboratory conditions under a controlled diet and known concentration of microplastics. Fish from trammel fisheries, operating closer to land and targeting larger individuals, showed higher mean ingestion values than fish from trawling fisheries, and were related to body size, as microplastics ingested increased with total fish length. Consequently, ingestion values of microplastics were not related to sampling distance from land giving further evidence of the ubiquity of microplastics in the marine environment. Finally, Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) analysis showed that the vast majority of microplastics were filament type and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) was the main identified component.

C. Alomar, A Sureda, X. Capo and al., Environmental Research, Volume 159, November 2017, Pages 135-142

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Fouling assemblage of benthic plastic debris collected from Mersin Bay, NE Levantine coast of Turkey

The Mediterranean is an ecosystem that faces more and more microplastic pollution every day. This causes the whole of the Mediterranean to face the negative effects of plastic pollution. This study examines the state of plastic debris and fouling organisms found on it in one of the areas most affected by plastic pollution, Mersin Bay. As a result, a total of 3.88 kg plastic (mean = 0,97 kg; n = 120; 2670 item/km2; 86,3 kg/km2) was collected and based on the ATR-FTIR analysis, it was determined that this total contained 9 types of plastics. 17 different fouling species belonging to 6 phylum (Annelida, Arthropoda, Bryozoa, Chordata, Cnidaria, Mollusca) 7 class and 11 order were discovered on plastics. Spirobranchus triqueter, Hydroides sp. and Neopycnodonte cochlear were the most abundant species. In the end, the example of Mersin Bay shows that plastic debris as a substrate can contain a very high diversity of life just like natural substrates.

Sedat Gündoğdu, Cem Çevik, Serkan Karaca, Marine Pollution Bulletin, Available online 14 July 2017, In Press

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Marine Strategy Framework Directive: Innovative and participatory decision-making method for the identification of common measures in the Mediterranean

The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) is the European Commission’s flagship initiative for the protection of the European Seas, and the first holistic approach to ensuring that European Seas reach and are maintained at what is called a ‘Good Environmental Status’ by the year 2020. Regional cooperation, especially between neighbouring countries, and involvement of all interested parties, are horizontal principles of the MSFD, and particularly apply to the definition of programmes of measures, the principal instrument through which each Member State will implement its marine strategy. This paper presents the results from a dedicated, participatory, structured decision-making process that was implemented within the framework of the ActionMed project, which aimed to bring experts and policy/decision-makers from Mediterranean neighbouring countries together, to discuss and agree upon common measures for implementation in their sub-regions. It shows that a participatory approach, supported by customised, case specific intelligent tools, that follows expertly facilitated, structured workshops can be a successful way to enhance sub-regional collaboration. The paper also presents the top ranking measures, selected by experts and decision-makers for common implementation in two Mediterranean sub-regions.

Xenia I. Loizidou, Michael I. Loizides, Demetra L. Orthodoxou, Marine Policy, Volume 84, October 2017, Pages 82–89

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The first evaluation of microplastics in sediments from the complex lagoon-channel of Bizerte (Northern Tunisia)

Microplastics (MPs) in sediments from the complex lagoon-channel of Bizerte were investigated, for the first time, to evaluate the occurrence and abundance of MPs in Tunisia. After density separation in saline solution, MPs were counted by a stereomicroscope. The number of MPs was at the range of 3–18 items/g sediment (3000–18,000 items/kg dry sediment) and the most contaminated site was of Menzel Abderrahmane (MA) followed by Carrier Bay (CB), Menzel Jemil (MJ) and Channel of Bizerte (C). The MPs gathered during the survey varied in size from 0.3 to 5 mm, and appear in a variety of shapes and colours. The dominant shape was fibre (88.88% in MA, 91.00% in CB, 82.35% in C and 21.05% in MJ). The rest of MPs are fragments whilst no micro beads were found. Colours are clear, white, blue, green, red and black. Cities discharges, fishing activity and industrial production sites are the most likely sources of MPs. This first work provides original data on the presence of MPs that determines their bioavailability to organisms as seafood, and then possibly transfers of to human. The high MP concentrations registered in the complex lagoon-channel of Bizerte suggest that this site is a hotspot for MP pollution and there is an urgency to understand their origins and effects on marine life. The results will provide useful background information for further investigations.

Sami Abidli, Hela Toumi, Youssef Lahbib, Najoua Trigui El Menif, Water, Air, & Soil Pollution,  July 2017, 228:262

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Occurrence of phthalate acid esters (PAEs) in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea and the Rhone River

Phthalate acid esters (PAEs) which are mainly anthropogenic molecules with endocrine disrupting effects in animals and humans, have been detected in terrestrial and aquatic environments. However, little is known about their distribution in the Mediterranean Sea, mainly because of analytical difficulties and the high possibility of ambient sample contamination. Here, we report the optimization of an existing protocol for the determination of PAEs in seawater and freshwater samples, as well as the first estimation of the source and distribution of phthalates acid esters (PAEs) in coastal waters from the NW Mediterranean Sea. By passing 1 L of sample through glass cartridges packed with 200 mg of Oasis HLB and eluted with 6 mL of ethyl acetate, the recoveries for DMP, DEP, DPP, DiBP, DnBP, BzBP, DEHP and DnOP were 101, 98, 115, 110, 99, 98, 103 and 95%, respectively, with acceptable blank values (below 0.4-4.0% of the masses measured in different seawater samples). By using this method, we detected PAEs in the Marseilles coastal area, offshore (2000 m depth) and in the Rhone River with total concentrations ranging from 75.3 ng/L offshore in surface water to 1207.1 ng/L a few meters above the bottom of the Marseilles Bay. High concentrations were also observed in deep waters offshore (310.2 ng/L) as well as in the Rhone River (615.1 ng/L). These results suggest that Marseilles urban area, Rhone River and sediment are potential sources of PAEs in the areas studied.

Andrea Paluselli, Yann Aminot, François Galgani, Sopheak Net, Richard Sempéré, Progress in Oceanography, Available online 21 June 2017, In Press

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