By installing a collection device on a tanker, water samples can be collected, while the ship is underway, for subsequent analysis by researchers. The aim is to draw conclusions as to the extent, distribution of microplastics and potential consequences for living organisms.
In addition to the Swedish Institute for the Marine Environment, the preliminary study, which is financed by Concordia Maritime, is being conducted in collaboration with the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences at The University of Gothenburg and SMHI (Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute).
Plastics are the most common form of marine debris. It is estimated that 8.8 million metric tons of plastic waste are dumped in the world's oceans each year. The volumes of microplastics in the oceans are a problem that has attracted increasing attention but so far, there is insufficient knowledge of the consequences for the environment and living organisms.
UN says that plastic debris results in an estimated $13 billion a year in losses from damage to marine ecosystems, including financial losses to fisheries and tourism, as well as time spent cleaning beaches. A WEF report said there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.
Ola Helgesson, CFO, Concordia Maritime, said:
Since we are a shipping company, it is natural that we focus our sustainability work on the marine environment. We are happy to be able to implement this important study and are in favour of using our vessels to gather seawater samples, which can then be used for further analysis and research. The preliminary study will begin now and if the evaluation is positive, the project will run over a couple of years.
Kajsa Tönnesson, Acting Director at the Swedish Institute for the Marine Environment, stated:
The Swedish Institute for the Marine Environment wants to increase understanding of the problems in the marine environment and what we can do to tackle them.
IMO MEPC 72 last week agreed to include a new output on its agenda, to address the issue of marine plastic litter from shipping in the context of 2030 SDG 14. As such, member Governments and international organizations were invited to submit concrete proposals to MEPC 73 on the development of an action plan.