Technologies for Observing and Monitoring Plastics in the Oceans

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Background Material
Workshop Flyer
IEEE OES Initiative
2020 Cascais Workshop
2019 Brest Workshop
Oceans 2019 Town Hall

Plastics in the oceans pose a mounting existential threat to life in the oceans and on land, including human life, and technologies to observe, measure and monitor the flow of plastics into, and within, the oceans are urgently needed in support of mitigating the threat.

Global Ocean Observation System (GOOS) perspective on marine plastics monitoring

Sanae Chiba



Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) has been building on its previous success in helping coordinate sustained observation of the physical ocean by extending to biogeochemistry and “biology and ecosystems”. GOOS Biology Ecosystem Panel (BEP) have made good progress, with Essential Ocean Variables (EOVs) for biology and ecosystem defined the link to capacity development recognised, and plans in place to have a global monitoring system identified by the end of 2019 with current progress against that system reported annually through the Decade of Ocean Science. The area of human pressures is not included in the current portfolio of GOOS. However, viewing the current issues on marine plastics, the BioECO panel stresses the need to be clear what key questions are to be addressed by sustained monitoring, eg. how important is it to monitor the land sources of marine plastics as well as their distribution and circulation in the oceans, to help society and policy to figure out the effective management options. As a starting point, GOOS will identify whether the sustained monitoring of marine plastics is being addressed independently (eg. through GESAMP), link to those initiatives, provide (non-financial) support for global uptake, coordination and consistency where needed and possible.

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