Micro(nano)plastics, as emerging contaminants, have attracted worldwide attention. Nowadays, the environmental distribution, sources, and analysis methods and technologies of micro(nano)plastics have been well studied and recognized. Nevertheless, the role of micro(nano)plastic particles as vectors for attaching organisms is not fully understood. In this paper, the role of micro(nano)plastics as vectors, and their potential effects on the ecology are introduced. Micro(nano)plastics could 1) accelerate the diffusion of organisms in the environment, which may result in biological invasion; 2) increase the gene exchange between attached biofilm communities, causing the transfer of pathogenic and antibiotic resistance genes; 3) enhance the rate of energy, material and information flow in the environment. Accordingly, the role of microplastics as vectors for organisms should be further evaluated in the future research.
Pollution and Marine Debris
Marine litter is a pollution problem affecting thousands of marine species in all the world's seas and oceans. Marine litter, in particular plastic, has negative impacts on marine wildlife primarily due to ingestion and entanglement. Since most marine mammal species negatively interact with marine litter, a first workshop under the framework of the European Cetacean Society Conference, was held in 2017 to bring together the main experts on the topic of marine mammals and marine litter from academic and research institutes, non-governmental organisations, foundations and International Agreements. The workshop was devoted to defining the impact of marine litter on marine mammals by reviewing current knowledge, methodological advances and new data available on this emerging issue. Some case studies were also presented from European waters, such as seals and cetaceans in the North, Baltic, and Mediterranean Seas. Here, we report the main findings of the workshop, including a discussion on the research needs, the main methodological gaps, an overview of new techniques for detecting the effects of marine litter (including microplastics) on marine mammals and, also, the use of citizen science to drive awareness. The final recommendations aim to establish priority research, to define harmonised methods to detect marine litter and microplastics, enforce networking among institutions and support data sharing. The information gathered will enhance awareness and communication between scientists, young people, citizens, other stakeholders and policy makers, and thereby facilitate better implementation of international directives (e.g., the Marine Strategy Framework Directive) in order to answer the question about the actual status of our oceans and finding solutions.
Cleaning is a fundamental concern of beach managers in many destinations as well as an important requirement in beach quality awards. However, it has been largely neglected in the literature. This paper provides an overview of empirical studies on beach cleaning and analyzes cleaning-related requirements of 11 beach awards that generate controversy in the literature. This study comments on key aspects of beach cleaning, resolves various misconceptions, and provides new perspectives by integrating related topics drawn from a wide range of literature. The arguments based on both the ecological and tourism managerial perspectives are presented, indicating the gaps and proposing research solutions. The paper calls for empirical studies with regard to the efficiency of different cleaning approaches on beaches with varying levels of use intensity and for methodological designs that separate the impacts of mechanical grooming from those of trampling, dune destruction, shore armoring, artificial lighting, among others.
The complexity and scale of the sources, types and environmental impacts of persistent solid waste pollution (PSWP) continue to overwhelm the capabilities of government and private efforts to control it. Global cumulative production of virgin plastics is expected to quadruple by 2050 with a concomitant doubling of plastic waste. All nations must take significant steps to realize eventual mitigation of PSWP. These will include adopting a long-term PSWP elimination policy, creating an overarching authority to lead and coordinate a comprehensive national solid waste management program, and creating an International Convention for the Prevention of PSWP to enable global solutions for this global pollution. Initiating these changes will necessitate major, coordinated efforts on the part of environmental organizations, their supporting foundations and concerned citizens.
This research investigates consumers’ responses to products made of recycled ocean plastic. A quantitative study was conducted online with 258 Dutch consumers in which attitudinal and behavioural responses to products made of ocean plastic were investigated. The most important predictors of consumers’ purchase intention were anticipated conscience, value for money and perceived functionality. In addition, risks of contamination negatively influenced purchase intention. For willingness-to-pay (WTP) a price premium, anticipated conscience, recognisability and perceived safety appeared to be the most important predictors. Through a cluster analysis, four different consumer groups were identified. Two consumer clusters consisting of ‘sustainability experts’ and the ‘sustainability benevolent’ (59% of our sample) demonstrated a strong interest and a willingness to pay a price premium for these products. When comparing consumers’ responses in different product categories, results showed that quality expectations and purchase intention were generally lower for textile products than for durables and fast-moving consumer goods packages. This research contributes to the theoretical understanding of consumer responses to products made of recycled ocean plastic and can help companies to develop strategies to launch such products effectively.
Microplastics are commonly found in marine ecosystems, but their distribution, prevalence, and impacts on resident fauna are still not well understood. Microplastics in coastal sediments expose invertebrate infauna to the risk of ingestion of plastic debris and associated toxicants. We assessed the prevalence of microplastics in beach sediments and ingested by Pacific mole crabs (Emerita analoga) at sandy beaches spanning >900 km of the California coast. Microplastics were present in sediments of every one of 51 beaches sampled. At a subset of 38 beaches Pacific mole crabs were collected and crabs at every beach had ingested microplastics. Across all beaches sampled, an average of 35% of Pacific mole crabs examined had microplastics in their guts. Our study demonstrates that microplastics are ubiquitous in sediments on California beaches and they are frequently consumed by a filter-feeding crustacean that is a common prey item in the diet of a wide variety of taxa, including fishes and birds.
Dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) runoff from Great Barrier Reef (GBR) catchments is a threat to coral reef health. Several initiatives address this threat, including the Australian Government's Reef 2050 Plan. However, environmental decision makers face an unsolved prioritization challenge: determining the exposure of reefs to DIN from individual rivers. Here, we use virtual river tracers embedded within a GBR-wide hydrodynamic model to resolve the spatial and temporal dynamics of 16 individual river plumes during three wet seasons (2011−2013). We then used in-situ DIN observations to calibrate tracer values, allowing us to estimate the contribution of each river to reef-scale DIN exposure during each season. Results indicate that the Burdekin, Fitzroy, Tully and Daintree rivers pose the greatest DIN exposure risk to coral reefs during the three seasons examined. Results were used to demonstrate a decision support framework that combines reef exposure risk with river dominance (threat diversity).
Due to its dependence on fossil fuel combustion, emissions from the marine transport sector can significantly contribute to air pollution. This work aims to evaluate the impact of maritime transport emissions on air quality in Portugal using a numerical air quality modelling approach, with high-resolution emission data. Emissions from the European TNO inventory were compiled and pre-processed at hourly and high spatial (∼3 × 3 km2) resolutions. Scenarios with and without these maritime emissions were then simulated with the WRF-CHIMERE modelling system, extensively tested and validated for Portugal domain, in order to evaluate their impact on air quality. A simulation was performed for one year (2016) and the resulting differences were analysed in terms of spatial distribution, time series and deltas. The main deltas for NO2 and PM10 are located over international shipping routes and major ports, while O3 concentrations are impacted in a larger area. The modelling results also indicate that shipping emissions are responsible for deltas in the concentration of NO2higher than 20% over specific urban areas located in the west coast of Portugal, and less than 5% for PM10. For O3 the relative contribution is low (around 2%) but this contribution is also observed at locations more than 50 km from the coast.
Pot fisheries occur worldwide with a significant proportion of the gear becoming derelict. Derelict pots induce detrimental ecological and economic impacts, and more recently were found to reduce blue crab harvests in the Chesapeake Bay commercial fishery. We simulated the presence of derelict pots near actively fished pots in seasonal field experiments to quantify the effect derelict pots have on blue crab harvest. Derelict pots reduced harvests by 30% during the summer, but not during the fall. Female blue crab capture rates were consistently lower when derelict pots were present; while capture rates of the less abundant males were not negatively affected by derelict pots. Variable responses to derelict pots may be due to seasonal differences in female and male blue crab behavior and movements. The costly effect that derelict pots have on harvest should be investigated in other pot fisheries to recognize the magnitude and mechanisms behind these impacts.
Effective site selection is a key component of maximising debris removal during coastal cleanup actions. We tested a GIS-based predictive model to identify marine litter hotspots in Lofoten, Norway based on shoreline gradient and shape. Litter density was recorded at 27 randomly selected locations with 5 transects sampled in each. Shoreline gradient was a limiting factor to litter accumulation when >35%. The curvature of the coastline correlated differently with litter density at different spatial scales. The greatest litter concentrations were in small coves located on larger headlands. A parsimonious model scoring sites on a scale of 1–5 based on shoreline slope and shape had the highest validation success. Sites unlikely to have high litter concentrations were successfully identified and could be avoided. The accuracy of hotspot identifications was more variable, and presumably more parameters influencing litter deposition, such as shoreline aspect relative to prevailing winds, should be incorporated.