Italian and French scientists on board the oceanographic ship Astrea to study the impact of plastic materials on the marine environment
Plastic Busters researchers will continue their investigations in the Pelagos Sanctuary to monitor sentinel organisms
Plastics are among the main pollutants in the Mediterranean Sea, posing a major threat both for the marine environment and for the organisms that inhabit it. In order to advance their knowledge on the situation, next September 8 Italian and French scientists will embark the oceanographic ship Astrea – owned by the Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA), on a trip whose route will include the most sensitive areas of the Pelagos Sanctuary. The starting point will be Leghorn harbor, followed by La Spezia, Genova, San Remo, and later by the harbors of Corsica, Asinara, and finally Elba and Capraia. Return is scheduled for September 18 in Leghorn. Thanks to support by Astrea, each research group focusing on specific research activities in the marine environment will have the opportunity to collect data on the presence of plastics and the pollution caused by them.
Beside ISPRA researchers and researchers from the University of Siena (Plastic Busters), French researchers from the Institut Français de Recherche pour l'Exploitation de la Mer (IFREMER) and the Groupe Tortues Marines - Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle (Paris) will join the expedition. On board the ship there will also be researchers from the Consortium LaMMA (CNR and Tuscany Region) and the University of Ferrara.
In particular, ISPRA researchers will focus on aspects related to the role of microplastics in the food chain, as well as on the presence and incidence of plastic fragments in the stomach content of pelagic and benthic fish species, which will be sampled during the expedition with trawl nets (Plankton hamburg net) as well as other fishing tools.
Researchers from the pilot project Plastic Busters, which was launched last year by the University of Siena within the framework of the global UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, will further their investigations on sentinel organisms, particularly focusing on the incidence of substances such a phthalates, persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and heavy metals on the tissues of fish, mollusks and turtles.
On the evening of September 9, Prof. Maria Cristina Fossi from the University of Siena, Prof. François Galgani from Ifremer and Dr. Teresa Romeo from ISPRA will hold a meeting to illustrate the objectives of the expedition and the situation of pollution from plastics in the Mediterranean Sea.
The Astrea mission is an ideal opportunity to deepen scientific knowledge as well as to sensitize the public opinion and trade, business and tour operators with which the entire Astrea team will interact while in the harbors.
Joint press release University of Siena - Institute for Environmental Protection and Research
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