We’ve all heard of the growing problems caused by microplastics, due to its high durability and low degradation rates.
Once plastic enters the marine environment, its existence persists for several years, also leading to ingestion by marine creatures, as the material does not biodegrade.
Collaborative project IMPACT is here to address just that, a local project solely dedicated to identifying microplastic hotspots in Maltese waters.
It was launched with the aim of quantifying and characterising microplastics in Maltese waters. Subsequently, this will then enable the compilation of a map of microplastics hotspots in the coastal waters around the Maltese Islands.
The project involves collecting seawater samples from all around the Maltese islands and analysing the samples for microplastics.
Microplastics are typically tiny pieces of plastic debris that are less than five millimetres in length. Due to their small size, they are quite difficult to be seen, and therefore it can be quite challenging to study and control them.
Apart from negative impacts on marine organisms, the density of microplastics can also be modified by different processes, which would consequently lead to the microplastic sinking to the seabed.
Even though the microplastic is now not within the water column, it can settle in the sediment for a long period of time. Once disturbed, the microplastic can find itself within the water column once again.
The presence of microplastics might even have social implications, related to potential threats to the public’s health and safety. And ultimately, an indirect cost of this reality is the deterioration of ecosystems services and reduction in quality of life.
Information gathered through this project will serve to better understand the distribution of microplastics, and the implications of their presence in certain areas.
The information collected will also be disseminated to different stakeholders, including the public.
The collaborative approach of this project also allows key members of the field of research and education, as well as stakeholders, to work together to promote the safeguarding of our natural environment.
IMPACT is a collaborative project between the Institute of Applied Sciences at MCAST, AquaBioTech Group, and environmental NGO, Żibel.
Check out their project website here.
Identifying Microplastic Hotspots in the Maltese Waters – IMPACT (GA: PRD 002) is supported under the PARADISE Call for Start-up Actions 2020-Malta Council for Science and Technology.
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