|MicroPlastics – Is it a threat for the 2 Seas area?
Almost all aspects of daily life involve plastics, and consequently the production of plastics has increased substantially the last 60 years. Plastics are persistent materials, which tend to accumulate in the marine environment and affect marine life as they remain there for years. Plastic materials degrade to smaller macro- and microplastic (MP) particles, or can enter the environment as small fragments e.g. scrubbers. These basic plastic polymer MP cause particular problem when ingested by different organisms. Those particles also contain additives such as UV-stabilizers, colourings, flame retardants and plasticizers, which are transported by the particles and are susceptible for uptake and accumulation by living organisms. Not only the plastic additives may harm marine life (e.g. starvation), but also the additives and the chemical load of the particles may have an impact.It is already known that MP tend to sorb and accumulate chemicals (Persistent molecules and other molecules) from the water.
Consequently, those particles are a source of contamination, transported through the water column. Finally those MP can be ingested by small marine organisms and the persistent pollutants can accumulate and be transported along the food chain. In the 2 Seas and France Manche area little is known about the impact of MP. In this MICRO-project, we will therefore analyse the problem and perform a risk assessment. Via modelling of the area, we will assess the potential hotspots of MP in the Region. For each country a hotspot will be assessed and will be rigourisly monitored. Samples will be taken in the different compariments of the ecosystem. As it is impossible to screen all residing animals, effects will be analysis on some sentinel species (key species). These species have been selected and effects will be assessed by different biochemical, fysiological and omics methods. Also the microbial load of the MP will be assessed.
In contrast to pollution of the marine environment by plastic debris, only little information is available on the abundance of MP and macroplastics in the water column, on the seabed, on the sea surface and on the coastline. Besides, the extent and consequences of ingestion of MP by marine organisms is not known. Literature only provides preliminary results on some filter feeders. Another knowledge gap concerns the transfer of persistent organic polluents such as PCBs, PAHs, DDT, OCPs, PBDEs on MP. Those compounds may become orders of magnitude more concentrated on MP compared to the water column. Almost no information is available on the biological effects of MP and the release of the chemical load to marine life.
Besides the risk assessment, also the impact will be assessed on some important activities of the region: Impact on Mariculture/aquaculture (Oyster), Tourism (Swimming water quality), Policy.
Additionally the information about the microbial load will be explored to work out mitigating measures. The microbial load potentially contains bacteria with biodegrading capacity what will be evaluated to work out mitigating action and to reduce the MP problem.|