PML scientists are involved in a range of events and activities this week leading up to World Oceans Day on the 8th June. From speaking at summits to TV appearances, there’s a running theme that ties in with the main focus of Word Oceans Day: preventing plastic pollution and encouraging ideas for a healthy ocean.
Plastic pollution is very much in the public eye, and remains a pressing issue. Every day, many tonnes of plastic continue to flood into the ocean. It has been predicted that by 2050 there will be more plastic waste than fish in the seas.
Prof. Mel Austen, Head of Science for PML’s Sea and Society group, will be presenting on “the knowledge base and gaps in our understanding of plastic pollution”, and involved in a panel discussion at the Volvo Ocean Summit on 5th June. Held in Cardiff, the event brings scientists together with government, industry and sport professionals to explore innovative solutions to the plastic problem.
Continuing the theme, Dr Pennie Lindeque will be appearing on ITV News, highlighting marine plastic pollution, which is a problem throughout the world ocean, to a wide audience.
Plymouth, Britain’s Ocean City, is part of the vanguard in the fight against the plastic tide. The Plastic Task Force is a collaboration between Plymouth businesses, researchers and communities, working hard to educate and eliminate plastics from the natural environment, with a comprehensive Plan for Plastics launching in summer 2018. As always, PML is heavily involved, working on ways to continue its efforts to reduce plastic use, and, importantly, undertaking cutting-edge marine plastics research. This week alone will see an array of work investigating, for example, how much microplastic is consumed by plankton in UK waters; the analysis of samples taken from the Atlantic Ocean; and the analysis of microplastic size off the Plymouth coast.
Amidst the increasing public awareness of plastic pollution, other environmental challenges should not be forgotten. Climate change ever looms, and Prof. Steve Widdicombe, Head of Science for PML’s Marine Ecology and Biodiversity group, will be speaking this week at the prominent International Symposium on the Effects of Climate Change on the World’s Oceans, in Washington. His presentation will tackle the key issues of responses to a warming world, from sea surface to sea bed.
“The week around World Oceans Day highlights many problems, and PML is at the forefront of understanding why these occur and what effects they may have,” said Prof. Icarus Allen, acting Chief Executive at PML. “We tend to think of individual issues, but the more we investigate these challenges, the more we learn they interact and confound the problem. An important part of our job is to raise these issues, and bring them to the attention of those that can make a difference, from policy makers to the wider public.”