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Plastic in Polar Environments (Plastic-AG)

Plastic disentangling seal web

Global production of plastics is increasing rapidly, with over 340 million metric tons produced worldwide in 2016. Recent estimates suggest there will be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050. Because of the persistence and longevity of plastics, it is likely that the problem will only get worse. While there has been a great deal of research in the more populated regions of the world, little is known about plastic pollution in Polar Regions. The Plastic-AG aims to assess the current state of the problem, share knowledge and expertise and propose solutions to the problems of plastic pollution in Polar ecosystems. This is an emerging and timely area of research which we believe necessitates a coordinated scientific focus.

The main aims of the AG are to:

  1. Establish a network of researchers interested in plastic pollution in the Polar Regions.
  2. Collate information on plastic pollution in the Antarctic and Arctic regions.
  3. Estimate current levels of pollution at the poles in terms of occurrence, sources and distribution, using both direct and remote observations and modelling approaches.
  4. Understand the impacts of all plastics on biological systems by investigating ecological, ecophysiological and ecotoxicological aspects and potential transfer of micro- and nanoplastics along terrestrial and marine food chains.
  5. Assess technology development and to standardise procedures (best practices) for plastic sampling and monitoring in Polar environments.
  6. Propose new measures to reduce and/or limit plastic pollution in Polar environments.

Plastic albatross string web