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Marine Plastic Debris and Microplastics

Global Lessons and Research to Inspire Action and Guide Policy Change

image of Marine Plastic Debris and Microplastics

This report presents both short- and long-term approaches to the problem of marine plastic debris and micro plastics. It provides an overview of the latest science and experiences, identifies priority areas of action, and points out areas requiring more research. Improved waste management is urgently needed to reduce the flow of plastic into our oceans.

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Monitoring and assessment

Obtaining representative samples of macro and microplastics in rivers can be problematic. For surface sampling of microplastics stationary or towed nets have been used. Alternatively, an underwater pump can be used to collect water which is then passed through a net (van der Wal et al. 2015). A floating sampler has been developed in Europe, for larger items (> 3.2 mm), by the organisation Waste Free Water. This is in two parts, with a surface net and a suspension net collecting at a depth of 0.2 to 0.7 m (van der Wal et al. 2015). Measuring the transport of material along the river bed has been undertaken using bottom nets designed for fishing (Mirrit et al. 2014). In addition floating booms have been deployed in rivers, harbours and other waterways to serve as litter traps. River flows can be very episodic, and the quantities of material transported may vary considerably on an hourly, weekly, seasonal or multi-year basis. In addition, flows are not constant across the cross-section of the river.

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