« Are you online? »: The chronicle of an unusual but effective Plastic Busters MPAs Steering Committee Meeting

"Please join the meeting at 9 am via the following link ...", “can you hear me?”, “can you go on mute? “, ”can you share your screen? “


These sentences have recently invaded our daily lives; in these times of confinement, we must all of us learn to master online meeting tools, in an effort to reconnect and come to grips with the “new normal” coronavirus has wrought on our communities.

The Plastic Busters MPAs team was no exception to the rule and therefore came up against this new working reality: online meetings.

"How is the current situation impacting the Plastic Busters MPAs’activities?” was a key question and issue that was discussed at the 5th coordination meeting of the project partners.

On May 12 and 13, around 50 representatives of the 15 implementing partners connected, from home and from all around the Mediterranean, to the 5th Steering Committee of the project, originally planned to take place in Dubrovnik.
After an overview of the problems and difficulties brought by the pandemic, the partners discussed and redesigned the next steps of the project in order to ensure the smooth implementation of all its activities.

Having completed the marine litter research expeditions, the Plastic Busters MPAs researchers were in the laboratory to process and analyze the collected samples when the COVID-19 crisis appeared; leading to an inevitable slowdown in these activities. During the meeting the partners provided an overview of preliminary results of the research campaigns and how these validated the marine litter hotspots model of the project. The Plastic Busters MPAs is working on the development of a forecasting model to identify marine litter hotspots in Mediterranean MPAs, which will eventually support targeted marine litter prevention and mitigation actions in the most affected Mediterranean MPAs, an activity that lies at the heart of the project activities.

A detailed update of the marine litter prevention and mitigation demos of the project was provided during the second part of the meeting; so far 8 demos have kicked off while another 4 are in the pipeline (read more here). During the meeting, valuable input and feedback was provided by the Interreg Med Joint Secretariat, the Interreg Med horizontal project ‘Biodiversity Protection Community’ and the Union of the Mediterranean.

Because the gastronomic richness of the Mediterranean is also a fundamental element of the project, and failing to be able to share a meal together the same evening, the partners exchanged their best Mediterranean recipes in a document and challenged themselves to realize them. A way of being together and keeping the bond active despite the current situation.