The first marine litter monitoring campaign streamed online

The first live streamed marine litter monitoring campaign was carried out this June in the Capo Milazzo MPA, located in Sicily. The 3-day-long knowledge transferring activities aimed at enhancing the capacities and skills of Mediterranean MPA managers and other conservationists on how to monitor marine litter

The hands-on activities in the Capo Milazzo MPA included beach macrolitter surveys, visual observations of floating macrolitter, microlitter surveys via manta trawl, macrolitter seafloor surveys with divers, and laboratory work to measure the impacts of marine litter on biota.

The 3 live streaming events and the associated activities, on the one hand provided the opportunity to a broader audience to get familiar with different marine litter monitoring techniques and methods and on the other hand they paved the way for conducting the first comprehensive assessment of the marine litter problem in the Capo Milazzo MPA, thus addressing knowledge gaps in terms of the amounts, types, sources, impacts and distribution patterns of marine litter.

The overall activity kick-started on a day of special significance for the project and the marine conservation community: the World Oceans Day (8 June). Experts from the ISPRA (Higher Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA), UNISI (the University of Sienna), SZN (Anton Dohrn Zoological Station and MIO-ECSDE were joined on board the Tritone boat (provided by Mare Pulito) by the manager and staff of the Capo Milazzo MPA. Instructions on how to use a manta trawl for the sampling of floating microlitter and how to proceed with the visual observation of floating macrolitter were provided, in line with the Plastic Busters MPAs related protocols.

On the 9th of June the live streaming event was  held at the ISPRA lab in Milazzo, where the analysis of collected samples was featured. During the session, it was shown in a step-by-step manner how samples are prepared and handled in the laboratory, for the subsequent FTIR assessment of the presence of microplastics;  their impact on biota was also discussed.

The last live streamed session held on the 10th of June provided the opportunity to attendees to join the experts of the Plastic Busters MPAs team on the beach, where a  beach litter survey was conducted. One of the highlights of the session was the presentation of the ‘Joint List of Litter Categories’ which is a ‘standard’ list of litter types commonly found in the coastal and marine environment that has been agreed upon by EU Member States.

As highlighted by Teresa Romeo, coordinator of the Plastic Busters MPAs project and senior researcher at ISPRA: 

Within the framework of the Interreg-Med Plastic Busters MPAs project, the MPA of Cape Milazzo has played a key role in initiating the transfer of protocols and the assessment of marine macrolitter and microlitter. Through concrete and targeted actions agreed upon by various partners, Capo Milazzo will gain a deepened knowledge on the impacts of anthropogenic pressures on the marine environment and its resources, in particular related to fishing activities and marine litter ”

Watch the live streaming sessions here: 

See all the pictures here