Monitoring plastic pollution in MED Islands
Plastic pollution is threatening the oceans, marine animals and even human health. When it is dropped on land, plastic often ends up in the marine system where it disintegrates into small pieces (microplastics; <5mm down to few nanometers) that can easily be integrated to the food web. Beaches represent one of the main gate for plastic to enter the ocean, associated to the current system of mass tourism over the last few decades, this represents a threat, especially in islands, for the environment as well as an economical challenge for local municipalities who have to face this seasonal increase of waste.
BLUEISLANDS project is assessing the dynamics of marine litter, with a special attention paid to micro and macroplastics, in highly touristic coastal areas of the following islands of the Mediterranean Sea: Mallorca, Sardinia, Sicily, Malta, Rab, Crete, Mykonos, Rhodes and Cyprus. A survey protocol was specifically designed to periodically monitor the amount and type of marine litter found on three selected beaches of each of the nine islands, as well as in the surface waters running the length of these beaches and the underlying marine sediment. The beaches were selected in order to encompass different case-scenario including highly touristic beaches, remote beaches (likely less impacted) and beaches mainly used by locals. These surveys will be conducted during both the high and low touristic seasons in order to assess the impact of tourism on the generation of waste (including both the micro- and macroplastics) on these beaches.