Research reveals the amount of plastic debris currently drifting in the Mediterranean

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A team of researchers has developed a model for tracking the path and fate of plastic waste from terrestrial sources in the Mediterranean. They show that plastic debris can be observed throughout the Mediterranean, from beaches and surface water to the ocean floor, and it is estimated that approximately 3,760 metric tons of plastic are currently floating in the Mediterranean.

global plastic Production has increased each year since the 1950s, with 368 million tonnes of plastic produced in 2019. Most of the plastic waste flows into the ocean and the ocean. 250,000 tons Shards of plastic Currently floating in the oceans around the world.

New research published in Marine science frontier Shows that a shocking amount of micro and macroplastic debris is currently floating in the Mediterranean.

The Mediterranean is considered a hotspot Plastic pollution.. This may be due to the dense coastline, fishing, shipping, tourism, and limited surface water outflows to the Atlantic Ocean. At the same time, the Mediterranean is rich in biodiversity and has become an area of ​​interest for the conservation of marine ecosystems.

Plastic pollution affects all levels of marine biodiversity, with micro and macroplastic particles found on the surface of the ocean, on the beach, on the ocean floor, and in the bodies of large and small marine animals. It has also been reported that humans ingest plastic by ingesting seafood.

Modeling of plastic pollution

A new model developed by researchers at the Greek Marine Research Center in Greece traced the path and ultimate fate of plastic waste in the Mediterranean.The model ran simulations over the period 2010-2017, rivers and Coastal cityTaking into account important dispersion processes such as subsidence, vertical / horizontal mixing, wind and flow. We also identified potential patterns of micro and macroplastic accumulation on the surface, water columns, seafloor, and beaches.

This reveals that the total annual load of plastic flowing into the Mediterranean is about 17,600 tonnes, of which 3,760 tonnes are currently floating in the Mediterranean Sea. 84% of the total ends up on the beach and the remaining 16% ends up on the water column or seabed.

“Simulation of the distribution of plastics in the marine environment is now characterized by considerable uncertainty. It involves several processes that affect the fate of plastics, such as subsidence, ingestion by marine organisms, and fragmentation into smaller pieces. Experimental data is still quite limited. ” Lead author Dr. Kostas Tsiaras.

“Our model demonstrated reasonable skills in recreating the distribution of plastics observed in the marine environment, thus assessing the current state of plastic pollution in the Mediterranean and the impact of future cleanup activities and management plans. Can be used to. “

The model also described biofouling as a potential mechanism for removing microplastics from seawater surfaces. Biofouling occurs when microorganisms such as algae accumulate on suspended or submerged objects such as plastic debris.

Plastic is taking over the sea

“Microplastics do not exist much on the surface of the sea because they sink quickly due to the attachment of heavy marine organisms (biological attachment) and accumulate deep in the water column and the seabed. On the other hand, macroplastics such as plastic bags and foamed styrol float. It’s possible, traveling longer periods of time, and long distances from those sources, “Tsiaras said.

Source of microplastics ( Wastewater treatment plant) Was found mainly in metropolitan areas and near densely populated areas along the coasts of France, Spain and Italy. Larger sizes of microplastics have been found in areas with high levels of untreated wastewater, such as the coasts off Greece and Turkey.

Macroplastics were abundant in areas near large cities and populated coasts (Spain, France, Italy), with influx of important rivers such as the coasts of Algeria, Albania and Turkey.

Policy recommendations

“The output of the model can be used to identify important ecological (bird and whale habitats) or commercial (aquaculture and fisheries) areas that may be exposed to the threat of plastic pollution. This is important for the design of ecosystem-based management plans and mitigation measures. Floating plastics can travel long distances from their sources, which is often a cross-border environmental problem for plastic pollution. “Possibilities,” said Tsiaras.

The social, political and cultural diversity of resident countries along the Mediterranean coast makes it difficult to implement common marine ecosystem management policies. However, a model like this one can help alleviate this problem.

“The use of predictive models, such as those shown here, that can link observed plastic concentrations to their sources is important for designating successful management plans.”

Plastic Sea: Unhealthy in the limelight at Nature Maintenance Conference

For more information:
Kostas Tsiaras et al, Modeling of Micro and Macroplastic Pathways and Accumulation Patterns in the Mediterranean, Marine science frontier (2021). DOI: 10.3389 / fmars.2021.743117

Quote: According to the survey, in the Mediterranean Sea (October 4, 2021) acquired from https: // on October 4, 2021. The amount of plastic debris currently floating has been revealed

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