Block 3. ATLANTIC REGION SESSION II:STRATEGIC SESSION ON WATER FRAMEWORK DIRECTIVE AND MARINE STRATEGY FRAMEWORK DIRECTIVE
What did we aim at?
The goal of the session was:
- To lead the dialogue between the WFD and the MSFD facing the problem of Marine Litter enhancing its inclusion as descriptor for both the environments rivers and seas toward a Good Environmental State.
- To showcase about best practices on technologies and innovative methodologies related with tracking and monitoring in rivers and estuarine ecosystems for gathering data on marine litter issue.
Vanessa Sarah Salvo, Spanish Offices Coordinator at Surfrider Foundation Europe Spanish Delegation.
Marisa Fernandez, Head of the Department of Control and Management of Marine Environment & Resources in CETMAR.
▪Andrés Cózar, Head of the Marine Litter Research Group at the University of Cádiz, Spain.
▪Fuensanta Salas, Coordinator of the Intercalibration of biological metrics in coastal waters at the Joint Research Centre (JRC) - European Commission.
▪Marta Martinez Gil, General Subdirectorate for the Protection of the Sea at the Spanish Ministry for the Ecological Transition.
▪Ramiro Neves, Environmental Modeler and at the Instituto Superior Técnico (IST), University of Lisbon, Portugal.
▪Cristina Barreau, Marine Litter Project Manager at Surfrider Foundation Europe, France
▪Maria Cabrera, Responsible for Communication in Paisaje Limpio.
▪Garbiñe Ayensa, Head of Documentation and Scientific Support Unit of INTECMAR, Xunta de Galicia, Spain.
▪Carmen Morales, Research Scientist at the Marine Litter Research Group at the Faculty of Marine and Environmental Sciences in the University of Cádiz, Spain.
▪Filipa Bessa, Researcher at Marine and Environmental Research Centre from the University of Coimbra, Portugal.
How can we face the problem of ML in the aquatic environment?
To better achieve the goals proposed the session has been split two sections. The first part was dedicated about the Marine Litter impact in river and marine ecosystems, particularly in Atlantic area, the European legislations and the OSPAR Convention as prevention and monitoring tools. The last section was a showcase of projects located in the Atlantic coast to knowledges and best practices exchange focusing on monitoring and modelling.
Background section: State of art about Marine Litter distribution with particular attention to Atlantic area. European legislation and OSPAR CONVENTION
Andrés Cózar explained the current state of the Iberian coasts and aquatic environments concerning the marine litter impact and how a marine litter indicator could support the understandings about quantitative and qualitative trends. The elevated number of existing indicators available at now is contraposing to their limitations due to low level of specificity and stability therefore an accurate indicator selection is crucial to get exhaustive dataset. Furthermore, estuarine and marine ecosystems due to their intrinsic characteristics are sometimes barely comparable enhancing limits for the indicators definition. In the framework of the Marine Litter (ML) spatial patterns study developed by the University of Cadiz in the Atlantic region 3 quantitative indicators has been considered: 1. amount of microplastics in the water column, 2. marine litter in the seabed and 3. marine litter in beaches. The study showed higher amounts of ML in beaches close to urbanized area with elevated human population density. While the seabed distribution displayed a decreasing pattern from the Cantabrian Sea to the Portuguese Atlantic Ocean, but an increasing trend in density for the Mediterranean Sea. Microplastic in water column showed lower densities in the North, rising up through the Portugal coast achieving highest densities in the Mediterranean Sea. Scientific data has to be the basis from which build up governance therefore a stronger linkage between decision makers and researchers have to established to facing the global issue ML in which interdisciplinarity is crucial to identify solutions.
“Linkage between science and decision making is important supportin networks to bring together institutions to fight ML” – Andrés Cózar, UCA
Fuensanta Salas described the steps realized for the Water Framework Directive (FWD) definition and the bioindicators related with. The European Community is aware about requirement to bond directives, such as MSFD and WFD, to achieve GES for which scientific data and policy making are the basis. The JRC carried out reviews about directives in Members States in particularly for the FWD the evaluation underlined weakness related with monitoring in terms of harmonization, best practices and knowledges exchange of the monitoring techniques between countries. ML should be included in the FWD as part of descriptors but its hardly recognizable spatial distribution and heterogeneous tendencies depending of the systems analyzed, riverbeds and water column, make it a challenge. Although data about sources and characteristics are still lacking the dissimilar monitoring techniques applied hinder the ML analysis. Therefore, the harmonization of the monitoring techniques is basic to compare data as well as exploring methodologies suitable for marine and riverine waters systems. Actually, data and techniques still now are not properly exchanged between Members States, this issue could affect rivers ecosystems monitoring considering that several catchment areas are shared between countries.
“There is an urgent demand for harmonization concerning monitoring techniques that could be used in both marine and riverine ecosystems” – Fuensanta Salas, JRC - European Commission
Marta Martinez Gil as representative of Spain, OSPAR Contracting Party, introduce the audience in the OSPAR Convention regarding ML and its monitoring concerns. The convention is a clear case in which scientific data aligned with action plans allowing the identification of solutions to fight marine litter as well as detecting innovative projects capable to bring inputs for management that could be included in action plans.
OSPAR Convention includes several working groups and committees to the better understand of the Atlantic governance. The ML working group MLWG is one of them, since 2010 the MLWG settled a standardized monitoring system with regular evaluations to progressive improvement of the measures. It was starting from 2014 a common protocol to trackle ML has been approved within OSPAR: for beaches with a guideline for seasonal samplings, for seabed debris deposit in collaboration with International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and identifying as indicators the fulmars seabirds in which huge amount of ML, mainly plastic, has been detected in their stomach. However, by means studies and research at now the Convention is going to approve other indicator to the ML accumulation detection such as turtles, in Mediterranean the Careta careta has been approved in the UNEP/MAP convention as well as researches have been carried out to harmonize methodologies for microplastics in sediments. The action plan of OSPAR Convention identify 4 lines in which working in: 1) maritime sources of ML, 2) terrestrial sources of ML, 3) awareness actions and 4) ML removal actions.
“Scientific data and action plans have to be aligned in order to fight marine litter” – Marta Martinez-Gil, Spanish Ministry for Ecological Transition
Showcase section: Experiences exchange monitoring in river and estuarine ecosystems
Ramiro Neves, shared the lessons learned from projects of modelling of Instituto Superior Técnico (IST), University of Lisbon highlighting the importance of rivers as flow discharging debris on the seas. In particular plastics is transported by the rivers as sediments the quantity of plastics moved by waters flows depends on several factors such as: the size of the catchment, density of population affecting the area or mismanagement of waste managing or treatments. The models are able to simulate flow but are weak to predict the exact amounts of ML transported by a potential flood considering that this depends by several external factor one of which the littering. Therefore, models could be auxiliary tools for the legislative regulations to stop the littering into the environment we the efforts should be focus on ensuring an efficient management of waste in the cities. Concerning type of models to examine ML hydrodynamic or sediments transportation models or ecological models related with filter feeders and fishes are focusing more on microplastics then macroplastics.
“A huge effort in regulations to stop the littering into environment is needed” – Ramiro Neves, University of Lisbon.
Cristina Barreau, presented the monitoring project of Surfrider Foundation Europe in the Adour River: The River Input Project. The aim was by means of monitoring build up a clear understanding to reduce plastic pollution inflows in the ocean through local solutions. To achieve definition of pathways, composition and distribution of ML micro and microplastic. For this purpose, monitoring 8 sampling sites in the basin and the beach of the river mouth has been studied during 4 years. The top 10 has been identified such as the different ML categories also including a comparison riverine litter and ML of the beach found. The findings allowed identify solutions to reduce the ML inflows, these measures have been sorted on the basis of costs analysis an efficiency to address the local authorities. The riverine litter amount should be an indicator of the good state of the European waters in the framework of WFD for that a standardized methodology to compare riverine dataset is required. Furthermore, microplastic binding regulations supporting preventive actions to avoid ML entrance into the sea are the more efficient managing tools.
“The riverine litter amount should be an indicator of the good state of the European waters in the framework of WFD” – Cristina Barreau, Surfrider Foundation Europe
Maria Cabrera, from Paisaje Limpio shared limitations identified before to carry out monitoring projects in rivers due to suitable methodology selection related with the riverine ecosystem for ML detection. During the first 3 years of work the RIMMEL methodology has been applied in several rivers of Spain next step of the research will be data analysis comparing all rivers.
Garbiñe Ayensa, explained the work done at INTECMAR about effectiveness of models to identification of hotspot or accumulation zones of macrolitter when comprehensive meteo-oceanographic conditions are taken into account. An interested project in the Aurosa estuary with a specific item of ML which is commonly accumulating in this area, the plastic floating sticks from the “bateas”. There are more than 3.000 farming places of mussels, or bateas, with several plastic structures each that break or are lost in the management. Estimations of lost of sticks per year are higher than 3 millions, 83 tonnes of plastic. One of the main lessons learned was that working with models helps but that drifting buoys and supervised citizen science are key elements to validate these models.
Carmen Morales, presented the RIMMEL Project done by the University of Cadiz and the JRC to gather data on floating litter in rivers and its entrance to the sea. She points out that it is an easy methodology everyone can made with a previous little training. It consists on the observations of macro litter through bridges and the extrapolations of the amount of it to the wide of the river. For this purpose there is an app to monitor the different categories which works with a researched and validated methodology and they will have it for citizens soon.
Applying this methodology they learned how at European level, in an accumulative way, Spain highly contributes to the ML amount on the seas. She points out that methodologies have to be harmonized and that the observation network has to be extended in order to have a better framework of the ML accumulation processes. Finally she mentioned that more information about what is happening in the rivers regarding macro and micro plastics is needed. For that we also need information on the proportion per citizens of litter that it is being mismanaged, to better calibrate the models and the interpretations of the inputs to the sea.
“Methodologies have to be harmonized and more information about what is happening in the rivers regarding macro and micro plastics is needed” – Carmen Morales, UCA
Finally, Filipa Bessa presented the big challenges they face while trying to implement a monitoring program on microplastics in rivers of Portugal. They had to choose the definition they were going to use to talk about microplastic regarding size, origins, solubility…and also what where they going to monitor in the project and with which technique. 2 years of research later they decided to use a widely used method of nets and digestion of plastics.
They learned that estuarine areas play a key role in the dynamics of microplastics, as they found microplastics in all the sampling places. They also identify the discharge points and the gradients between river and sea. She points out that in the 1st year of the project they already recognized the influence of the rivers to the sea, and that ML in rivers should be considered on the directives. Finally, she agrees that harmonized monitoring and characterization methods are needed, as well as working together to fight sources and impacts of ML on aquatic ecosystems
Break for questions
Rivers with higher loads is the poor river in Italy, and Mediterranean rivers the stimation for the loads are higher in the models shown. Why in the model, the loads of the Mediterranean rivers are higher?
This is the result of the calibration of all the data across Europe. We can find high concentration in the northern part due to the high populations in this part of Europe. There is no different approach for northern and Mediterranean rivers but it is a good question because climate and hydrological regimes are different. With this approach we cannot measure these inputs driven by storms, is more a seasonal calibration (seasonal loads) what we can see in these models. – Andrés Cózar
We have seen projects centered in macroplastics, other in microplastics… So if we want this conexion between directives, should we restrict to one of them or should we focus on both indicators for the 10th Descriptor?
We should take into account both types of plastics due to the fact that macroplastics degrade into microplastics and by doing so they release contaminants to the water. – Fuensanta Salas
Both fractions had a link between them and we could find them in both rivers and seas, so we should investigate its pathway to the sea and also how much of it is reaching the rivers. All of it along with researching on the capacity of the water treatment plants to contain microplastics. – Marta Martinez Gil
You talked about fishing for litter and you say that you hope that in some years all the ports apply this methodology, is there any strategy for this purpose? Have you been in touch with the fishing sector not only in Galicia but in other autonomous communities? What have you take into account?
We have the intention of creating a National Scheme of Fishing for Litter taking into account the National Secretary for Fishing. This measure is already inside the Spanish Strategy for Circular Economy. It is a project based on the existing experiences in Spain, where we have lots of initiatives working on Fishing for Litter, all of them different due to its different working places and fishing sector. We have started with the exchange of experiences and participation of the fishers as well as with some workshops to know about the problems and the needs of these projects. The idea is to support these projects and start to develop an scheme for working in Fishing for Litter. We are gathering the maximum information to develop common rules inside Intermares framework taking into account to adapt to the reality of the sector. To implement it correctly we need to know how the new waste directive is going to take place in the ports. – Marta Martinez Gil
I think it is very interesting what professor Cózar has address regarding the accumulation points of some types of ML. It will be nice to know these points, pick-up the litter and then at the harbours have some kind of disposals for it and to be able to reutilize this waste.
It is the idea of the project we talked about before, the problem with ML is that lots of times it is very degraded and that it is not possible to reutilize. Along with this, only very specific types of plastics can be reutilized, like the PET type. There are projects working on revalorizing this waste but there is still a lot to develop regarding this issue. - Marta Martinez Gil
It is difficult to price this kind of waste that usually is very degraded and even having PET or nets to price, you ustill have a big amount of waste that it is hard to manage. Nonetheless we are more and more associations working on it every day. – Marisa Fernández Cañamero
Is there in rivers any faunistic indicator, as there is already in seas with the turtles for example?
There are in estuarine areas in Portugal some fishes living there but estuaries are mostly transitional areas for fauna, so it will be better to look at rivers. From our experience we learn that pelagic fish from the bottom of the rivers are good indicators for microplastic quantities on the water. – Filipa Bessa
Many of us talked about the issue of harmonization of the data in monitoring but then we found that each working group has its Master List of indicators and when we try to harmonize them we create another Master List. How do we really harmonize the data and make the two directives work together?
Regarding monitoring in beaches this issue has been widely discussed and I think the idea is to have a long Master List with plenty of items or indicators with the examples we can found. What EU recommends is that in a regional level we should choose a more representative list from the previous one and thus make both compatible. – Marta Martinez Gil
The role of the agreements in this case has a huge importance for the harmonization – Fuensanta Salas
From our experience we learn that it is really difficult to impose any Master List and I agree that the bigger organizations have an important role on guiding but it is not the same to talk about basin scales or continental scales.In our laboratory we had been working on gathering information from a global scale using the main data sources and in different environments. We get different classifications and we cross these data. Obviously to harmonize the data we lost information, but the final classification we arrive to its common or transversal one that can be used to harmonize Master Lists. - Andrés Cózar and Carmen Morales
Which one will be the way to follow in order to bring together in a coherent way these directives?
The proposal should be to include both, micro and macro plastics in the monitorings. For this purpose this aspect has to be included in the revision of the directive, which is happening right now. It is also important for this issue to be mandatory, for all the member states to have the duty of implementing the same monitoring for ML. – Fuensanta Salas
Vanessa Sarah Salvo from Surfrider Spain, coordinator of the session
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