Europe is the second global producer of plastics, dumping about 150,000 to 500,000 tonnes of macroplastics and from 70,000 to 130,000 tonnes of microplastics in the Mediterranean Sea each year. Research about microplastics has been increasing through the years, however, there are relatively few studies that have evaluated the presence of microplastics in the Maltese marine environment. Present studies have been mainly generated through one-off studies rather than from long-term monitoring research and most of the studies focus on marine litter with little reference to microplastics.
The IAS within MCAST, AquaBioTech Group and Żibel have teamed up together to work on IMPACT - Identifying Microplastic Hotspots in the Maltese Waters. The project involves collecting seawater samples from all around the Maltese islands and analysing the samples for microplastics. This is done in order to quantify and characterise microplastics in Maltese waters. This will enable the compilation of a map of microplastics hotspots in the coastal waters around the Maltese Islands.
This information will serve to better understand the distribution of microplastics, and the implications of their presence in certain areas. Through the collaborative approach adopted in this project, key players in the field of research and education, and stakeholders are working together to promote the safeguarding of our natural environment.
Project IMPACT aims to understand the nature and distribution of microplastic within Maltese waters. Whilst microplastics do not fall directly within the scope of Directive EUR 2019/904, they are considered specifically in descriptor 10 of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive [10.1.3 “Trends in the amount, distribution, and where possible, composition of micro-particles (in particular micro-plastics)”], and implicitly in the indicator related with impacts of litter on marine life. The project aligns to this indicator providing a comprehensive and systematic picture of the distribution of microplastics. Additionally, the European Union expert group on marine litter (TSG-ML) recommends the development and calibration of monitoring methods, and initiation of Europe wider scale monitoring to commence straight away.
IMPACT (GA: PRD 002) is supported under the PARADISE Call for Start-up Actions 2020-Malta Council for Science and Technology.