CLEANSEA, a research project to address the plastic soup in Europe

CLEANSEA Project Consortium will assess drivers and impact of marine litter in European seas and provide solutions. The kick-off meeting took place in Amsterdam, 14-15 February 2013.

group photo_kickoff amsterdam
CLEANSEA project team at kick-off meeting, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam

Europe’s concerns have spurred new action against the marine litter polluting the seas that Europeans rely on for their livelihoods and well-being. Citizens, businesses, NGOs and governance bodies have been voicing a common desire for clean seas. For the next three years, European researchers will be probing the issue together with SMEs, a NGO (EUCC Mediterranean Centre) and a large network of coastal communities. With a financial contribution from the European Union’s 7th Framework Program, this consortium is assessing impacts and amounts of marine litter using newly developed techniques and determining the best mitigation measures and policy options for Europe to pursue. A result of society’s capacity for waste creation combined with underdeveloped waste and recycling management practices, marine litter has become a threat to marine ecosystem and human health. The UN has deemed marine litter to be one of the most important emerging environmental issues of our time. Without action this problem will continue to grow because marine litter is made up of harmful materials that persist in the marine environment for generations. When it comes to the overarching goal of this new research initiative, the project’s acronym CLEANSEA says it all. The three-million euro project is coordinated by the Institute for Environmental Studies at VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

“We are tackling marine litter from an interdisciplinary perspective,” says VU University Amsterdam ecotoxicologist and the project’s coordinator, Dr. Heather Leslie. “From past studies of environmental pollutants, such as PCBs and flame retardants, we have learned that designing effective solutions requires input from multiple stakeholders and a mix of expertise. Our approach helps uncover blind spots in our understanding of the drivers of marine litter and the harmful consequences of business-as-usual on marine ecosystems.”

EUCC Mediterranean Centre is responsible for Work Package Dissemination&Promotion.

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