SPREP, CSIRO Collaborate in Combating Marine Litter
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The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) of Australia have collaborated to better understand the impacts of marine plastic in the waters surrounding Papua New Guinea (PNG), Samoa and Solomon Islands.

sprep_csiro8 May 2015: The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) of Australia have collaborated to better understand the impacts of marine plastic in the waters surrounding Papua New Guinea (PNG), Samoa and Solomon Islands.

David Haynes, Waste Management and Pollution Control Division, SPREP, said that he hoped working with CSIRO would enhance understanding and ultimately reduce the sources and impacts of marine debris in the SPREP region.

CSIRO scientist Denise Hardesty, a world expert in marine plastic pollution, recalled that plastic particles are one of the most important and damaging pollutants found in the marine environment as they are widely distributed, contain a range of toxic pollutants and can become entangled with marine wildlife.

As part of the SPREP/CSIRO collaboration, SPREP will participate in a CSIRO research voyage that will investigate by-catch by trawl fishing vessels around PNG. The research vessel will collect thousands of fish, which will then be sampled for plastics ingestion to facilitate understanding of the impacts of these pollutants on marine wildlife. During the voyage, a manta tow net will be run to sample for plastics on the ocean’s surface and to take water samples to investigate microplastic distribution.

CSIRO is also providing expertise and assistance to SPREP in developing studies on marine litter in Samoa and in Honiara, Solomon Islands, in order to: enhance data regarding the amount of marine debris in the region arriving from rivers and nearby population centers; and better understand how such debris is distributed along coastlines and in the marine environment. This will help link waste management infrastructure and systems in the region to marine debris accumulation areas. [SPREP Press Release]

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