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News and Events


News and Events 2018

  • February 2018

EPHEMARE Stakeholder Workshop

Stakeholder Workshop

On February 21st, the EPHEMARE Stakeholder Workshop was held in the University of Antwerp, inviting stakeholders from research, regulators, policy makers and industry representatives. The workshop was designed in order to facilitate effective knowledge exchange between stakeholders, and working towards identifying future research areas and potential solutions to the negative impacts of microplastics in the marine environment based on mutual understanding.

The workshop opened with a series of presentations from experts in the fields of microplastics research and policy, to set the scene and context for the current standing of microplastics in these areas, including a summary of the EPHEMARE project, marine litter and microplastics monitoring, microplastics research, an overview of the Plastics Strategy, and REACH Restrictions on Microplastics intentionally added in products.

The afternoon group work consisted of a short icebreaker, followed by discussions in teams on the identification of future research areas and designing a potential solution to the issue of microplastics in marine environments. The participants then had the opportunity to vote for their favourite solution under 2 categories: most implementable and most effective.

The day concluded with an expert led panel discussion, comprising of Prof Dr Thomas Braunbeck(Aquatic Ecology and Toxicology, Centre for Organismic Studies, University of Heidelberg), Richard Cronin (Vice-Chairman OSPAR Commission, Senior Advisor Water Division Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Ireland), Didier Bourguignon (Policy Analyst, European Parliament DG Parliamentary Research Services ), GertVerret(Policy Officer, Flanders Department of Economy, Science and Innovation, JPI Oceans Management Board), and Valentina Berato (Policy Officer, Sustainable Chemicals, EU Commission, DG Environment), with closing remarks from Proffessor Ronny Blust, vice rector science at the University of Antwerp.

Thank you to all contributors to and participants in our workshop for making it such a success!

New EPHEMARE Publications

EPHEMARE researchers have a number of publications coming out in Environmental Pollution resulting from work conducted over the course of the project.

Researchers from the University of Murcia have two articles coming under review in early 2018.

The first, available online now (click here for more): Espinosa, C., García Beltrán, J.M., Estaban, M.A., Cuesta, A. 2018 'In vitro effects of virgin microplastics on fish-head kidney leucocyte activities' in Environmental Pollution, 235, pp. 30-38. The full article is available here: 

EPHEMARE Project members at the University of Heidelberg have also recently published a paper in the same journal relating to accumulation patterns and transfer of benzo[a]pyrene to zebrafish fills and zebrafish embryos.

Batel, A., Borchert, F., Reinwald. H., Erdinger, L. and Braunbeck, T. 2018 ‘Microplastic accumulation patters and transfer of benzo[a]pyrene to adult zebrafish (Danis rerio) gills and zebrafish embryos’ in Environmental Pollution, 235, pp. 918-930, with full details on the publication available at


Meanwhile, researchers in the University of Oslo and at Örebro University also have succeeded in having a paper published in Environmental Pollution: Bour, A., Haarr, A., Keiter, S. and Hylland, K. 2018 ‘Environmentally relevant microplastic exposure affects sediment-dwelling bivalves’ in Environmental Pollution, 236, pp. 652-660. Click here for more

News and Events 2017


  • December 2017


EPHEMARE Newsletter 2017

As we come to the end of 2017, we recap on what our researchers have been up to. It's been a busy 2017 for the EPHEMARE project, click here to find out more! Keep up to date on the latest progress and announcements from EPHEMARE by following us on Facebook and Twitter


EPHEMARE teaming up with Race for Water (R4W) – the numbers are in:

This Race for Water Odyssey focused on three pillars: Learn, Share and Act. EPHEMARE scientists were delighted to use the opportunity of the R4W  to undertake sampling in Bermuda and Guadeloupe and to raise awareness of their research through fantastic media coverage, a conference, a workshop and welcoming school children on board. For more information check out the R4W website: and if you want to know what the EPHEMARE scientists got up to, reread the R4W blog entries for Bermuda and Guadeloupe

EPHEMARE’s Dr. Bénédicte Morin, on the R4W: "Quite frankly, I’m delighted and I’m sure my colleagues are too. The vessel is incredibly spacious and we can carry out some high-quality work on her, added to which the teams aboard the boat have given us a very warm welcome. It’s just extraordinary to be able to carry out oceanic studies without any environmental impact and noise-free thanks to this vessel being propelled by clean energies."


  • November 2017

EPHEMARE at H2020 SC2 Information Week

EPHEMARE Project Coordinator Ricardo Beiras presented the key findings to-date from the project as part of the H2020 Societal Challenge 2 information week  in Brussels on November 17th. His presentation formed part of the Blue Growth Research and Innovation Day, and was presented at the sub-session addressing Marine Stressors and Food Security.

Cork Science Festival/Science Week Ireland 2017

Some of the entries of the EPHEMARE IMPACT 2017 International Microplastics Photo Competition were recently displayed as part of the Science of Sustainability event during Ireland’s National Science Week/Cork Science Festival, in St. Peters Church, Cork.

This event is part of a series of events, exhibitions, and talks taking place nationwide to celebrate science in Ireland, and highlight the variety of research being undertaken. The issue of marine litter and in particular microplastics in the marine environment is being highlighted through the exhibitions of these images.

Ocean Plastics Lab in Paris 

The Ocean Plastics Lab began the second stage of its journey, this time in Paris, which included a visit from Nobel Peace Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus! This exhibition is a ‘hands-on’ lab, showcasing the contribution of science to understand and combat the problem of plastics in the ocean. The exhibits encompass interactive installations, displays and animations on loan from laboratories, research institutes and various other science and civil society partners worldwide. EPHEMARE is delighted to contribute with selected images from #IMPACT2017 the projects International #microplastics photo contest, which took place in the Spring of 2017. The OPL will be in Paris until November 17th

  • October 2017

EPHEMARE scientists from the University of Bordeaux, the Polytechnic University of Marche, and the Institute of Marine Sciences of CNR arrived in Guadeloupe on October 4th to once again join the Race for Water. Taking part in the Race for Water (R4W) Odyssey allows EPHEMARE scientists to conduct sampling activities to characterise the presence and distribution of microplastics in this part of the ocean for the first time.

Sampling began on October 4th. The team first contacted local fishermen at the Point-a-Pitre market, and acquired samples of the main species caught and consumed locally.          

Sampling was also carried out on the local beaches of the Petit Bourg, one of the most polluted areas in Guadeloupe, significantly due to the past use of pesticides in local banana plantations, which has resulted in the interdiction of fishing for the next number of decades in the area. Additional sampling was conducted around the Petit Bourg Marina, where many specimens of tube worms and oysters were collected.  

Post-sampling, the organisms collected are dissected in the wet backs on the T4W, in line with EPHEMARE protocols. Further lab analysis of samples will be carried out back in the EPHEMARE labs in Europe upon the return of the researchers

Sampling work continued on October 5th, with the team dividing responsibilities. One group remained on board the R4W sampling for microplastics within the seawater column and marine sediments with the use of a Manta net.

The second group were working on sampling marine species. By deploying nets and snorkelling, scientists were able to acquire a variety of specimens, including oysters, crabs, new species of fish, sea urchins, gastropods and other invertebrates.

Following two days spent on the main island of Guadeloupe, the R4W headed south to Marie-Galante. The team chose a beach located in the town of Capersterre towards the south of the island to sample, facing the prevailing winds and currents. The team from the University of Bordeaux took care of beach sand sampling while the Italian researchers worked to obtain a wide variety of fish from the market at Grand Bourg, and collected in situ marine invertebrates from Capesterre. Sediments were recovered with a van Veen bucket from a Zodiac and three Manta net trawls at 300 μm and three plankton net trawls at 50 μm were used to sample microplastics and zooplankton from the water surface.

  • September 2017 

EPHEMARE Team Joining the 'Race for Water' 

The EPHEMARE scientists are currently preparing to join the next leg of the ‘Race for Water’ Odyssey in Guadeloupe. In the meantime, the Race for Water team have  facilitated a visit to the research vessel for local schoolchildren, talking to the scientists of tomorrow. The students visited the vessel to talk about the problems of plastics in the marine environment and the preservation of our oceans.

05/10/2017 Update: The EPHEMARE team have arrived in Guadaloupe, ready to take part in the next stage of their round-the-world Odyssey! Keep an eye on our social media (Facebook and Twitter) for updates on how the team is progressing! 

EPHEMARE at Ocean Plastics Lab 

The Ocean Plastics Lab has hit the road, opening in Turin on September 28th, World Maritime Day.

EPHEMARE contributed some of the entries from the IMPACT 2017 photo competition to Ocean Plastics Lab, to be displayed in order to raise awareness of microplastics and to highlight JPI Oceans research in the subject area.

The exhibition is designed as a hands-on science lab, inviting visitors to assume the role of scientists and over the course of four consecutive containers explore the extent and impact of plastics in the ocean. The exhibits in OPL encompass interactive installations, displays and animations on loan from laboratories, research institutes and various other science and civil society partners worldwide. The Ocean Plastics Lab has been initiated by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research together with the German Marine Research Consortium and international partners from policy and science.

The exhibition has gained much attention, with the European Commissioner for Research and Innovation Carlos Moedas and the German Federal Minister of Education and Research Johanna Wanka attending the opening session and viewing the EPHEMARE IMPACT 2017 entries. 

The exhibition will remain in Turin until the 7th of October, from where it will move to Paris from November 4th to 17th.

EPHEMARE in Santa Marta, Columbia

EPHEMARE featured at the the Ocean Teacher Global Academy (OTGA) course: Ocean Literacy and Story Telling Maps Training Course in Santa Marta, Columbia at Invemar, as an example how Ocean Literacy can be advanced on specific topics such as microplastics in our oceans. The course coordinated by IOC-UNESCO held back to back with the 8th International Coastal Atlas Network (ICAN) workshop on  “Coastal Web Atlases enhancing Ocean Literacy (OL) and both events attracted more than 25 participants from 20 countries in the week from the 11th till 15th of September 12, 2017. For more information visit the ICAN website and check out the OTGA course agenda.

  • June/July 2017

EPHEMARE scientists on board the MS Wissenschaft in Germany


EPHEMARE scientists from the University of Heidelberg, were invited to talk about microplastics on board the MS Wissenschaft on Sunday the 16th of July, 2017. This swimming science center promotes marine science and targets specific topics that are of concern in marine science. The EPHEMARE team in Heidelberg used the opportunity to not only inform about microplastics in general but highlighting through research methods where microplastics can be found e.g. in sediment samples, especially targeting the younger audience members age 8-12 years old. The team also used Artemia (brine shrimp) that had ingested microplastics, and demonstrated a Sodium chloride (NaCl) sediment extraction. This microplastic event reached about 30 to 40 people and is part of the larger 2017 tour of the “MS Wissenschaft”, which started on April 24th and will finish on the 8th of October in Straubing in Southern Germany. The exhibition ship “MS Wissenschaft” is on tour several months per year since 2002 and presents science in new ways and hosts about 80.000 visitors per year. For more information about the MS Wissenschaft follow this link

EPHEMARE sampling activties in Bermuda with Race for Water

EPHEMARE joined the Race For Water mission in Bermuda last week. Check out the video of the the teams work.


Student Presentation Award - Lucia Pittura

During the last PRIMO meeting “Pollutant Responses in Marine Organisms” in Japan, Lucia Pittura PhD Student at Polytechnic University of Marche, received the “Student Presentation Award” sponsored by Society for Environmental Toxicology & Chemistry (SETAC) for the oral presentation “PRESENCE AND ECOTOXICOLOGICAL RISKS OF MICROPLASTICS IN MEDITERRANEAN ORGANISMS”. Lucia presented data derived from the EPHEMARE Project.

  • May 2017


IMPACT 2017 Winning Images

Congratulations to the winners of the EPHEMARE photo contest IMPACT 2017

First Place - Filipa Bessa - Zoo Plastics

Second Place - Catia Goncalves - The Dark Side of the Peacock

Third Place - Adam Porter - What a Fine Mess We Have Made

IMPACT 2017 vote for your favourite! 

The entries are in for IMPACT 2017 and the judges have voted for their favourites! The public vote is now open! Go to our photo album IMPACT 2017 and like your favourite! If you are sharing an image please ensure you like the photo on the EPHEMARE Facebook page. The public vote will work on a points system as follows:

150+ likes = 5 points 
71 – 90 likes = 4
51 – 70 likes = 3 points
21 – 50 likes = 2 points 
0 – 20 likes = 1 point


The maximum points a photo can receive from the public vote is 5 points.

The vote will close on Monday June 12th at 11am (Irish time). The points from the public vote will be added to the judges points and the winners will then be announced! 

  • April 2017

EPHEMARE teams up with The Race for Water Odyssey 

The Race for Water vessel, departed from Lorient, on April 9th, setting sail for a five-year mission to promote solutions for protecting the world’s oceans. Race for Water is a state-of-the-art vessel powered by a mixture of renewable energy sources: solar, hydrogen and a traction kite.

EPHEMARE will be joining the mission at two locations (Bermuda and Guadeloupe) this year. The Race for Water vessel will host EPHEMARE scientists from Vigo University, Bordeaux University, University of Antwerp and Marche Polytechnic University of Ancona. On these two missions, the researchers will be sampling microplastics in the water column, microplastics in emerged sediment, microplastics on beaches and collecting endemic marine organisms such as fish, crustaceans, molluscs and bivalves.

Another JPI Oceans project – WEATHER – MIC, will also be teaming up with Race for Water this year.

Stay tuned to our Facebook page and website for more updates and blogs from the EPHEMARE scientists on this exciting initiative!

Hans Peter Arp (Weathermic), Ricardo Beiras (Ephemare), Frederick Sciacca (Race for Water), Raimundo Blanco (Race for Water), Kim Van Arkel (Race for Water) visiting the solar boat in Lorient the day of before its departure.

EPHEMARE 2nd Annual Project Meeting 

The 2nd Annual EPHEMARE project meeting was hosted by CNR – ISMAR in Genoa, Italy last week. The two-day meeting was in order to update consortium partners on activities to date and scheduled activities for 2017. 

In 2016 EPHEMARE researchers were involved in numerous activities ranging from final selection of model target contaminants, to measuring the uptake, elimination and accumulation rates of small sized microplastics in Mediterranean mussels all the way to characterisation of different microplastics used within the EPHEMARE consortium under Environmental Scanning Electron Microscope (E-SEM). Pilot studies to determine best experimental set-up for uptake experiments and a microplastics counting method were established and the consortium undertook inter-laboratory comparison tests. A study of trophic transfer of microplastics into fish larvae commenced and preliminary tests with spiked plastics were undertaken to determine, if the ingestion of microplastics by marine zooplankton could increase the uptake of adsorbed non-polar organic toxins to plankton filter feeders. EPHEMARE researchers also evaluated the effects of microplastics on the immune systems of European sea bass, gilthead seabream specimens and a sea bass cell line and investigated the expression of genes related to oxidative stress, cellular stress and apoptosis in the seabream liver, head-kidney. The effects of microplastics on embryonic and larval development of mussels was studied as well as the exposure of mussels to virgin and spiked microplastics.

EPHEMARE researchers took part in a sampling campaign in the Belgium North Sea and fieldwork in the Adriatic Sea commenced to evaluate the presence, distribution and characterisation of microplastics in wild species of commercial interest along food webs. EPHEMARE launched the project website and a project Facebook page in 2016 and our researchers presented their work at many conferences such as SETAC in in France, MICRO in Spain, Plastics in European Freshwater Environments in Germany and the 30th ESCPB Congress in Spain. On top of publishing research in journals, EPHEMARE researchers took part in numerous events such as Polytalk 2016 in Brussels, the Teaching Laboratories in Ancona, the Italian festival of Science in Genoa and the Clean Coast Roadshows in Cork, Ireland.

Activities for 2017 include:

  • Completion of the extraction of absorbed compounds under simulated digestion conditions (using pepsin). The extract will then be chemically analysed and tested for endocrine disruption.
  • Further microplastic uptake experiments, involving different organisms and types of microplastics will be conducted.
  • An analysis of survival and growth disruption in species occupying different levels of trophic webs following exposure to microplastics and persistent pollutants will be conducted.
  • An analysis of disruptions in early life stages in species occupying different levels of trophic webs following exposure to microplastics and persistent pollutants will also be conducted in 2017.
  • Multiple experiments examining issues such as genotoxicity, endocrine disruption, gene expressions, proteomics and transcriptomics will be carried out in 2017.
  • During 2017 partners involved in the extraction and characterisation of MPs in wild organisms will continue to sample and process organisms for microplastic extraction and characterisation. Experiments in controlled laboratory conditions will be performed to assess the uptake of microplastics by organisms, their compartmentalisation in tissues and the biological responses induced by microplastics and associated persistent pollutants.

Another exciting activity EPHEMARE are involved in for 2017 is the Race for Water Odyssey 2017 – 2021. Stay tuned to our website and social media sites for more information in the coming days!

  • January 2017

Launch of IMPACT 2017 (International Microplastics Photo Contest)

The EPHEMARE team invites submissions to enter an International microplastics photo contest. IMPACT 2017 (International Microplastics Photo Contest) kicks off in May. Participants must register by April 28th. See below for more details!

NEWS and EVENTS 2016:

  • December 2016: 

EPHEMARE E-Newsletter:

Click on the image below to access the first EPHEMARE E-Newsletter

Click here for a printable version of the newsletter. 


    Update from our Ecotox research group in Vigo on the exposure experiment of mussels to virgin and spiked microplastics, which took place in collaboration with the University of Antwerp and was coordinated by the Spanish Oceanographic Institute of Murcia. For more information follow the Vigo EPHEMARE blog here

    EPHEMARE partners from University of Murcia, have published a chapter on "Microplastics in Aquatic Environments and Their Toxicological Implications for Fish" in the book "Toxicology - New Aspects to This Scientific Conundrum"

    Click on the image below to access the chapter 

    • June 2016:

    EPHEMARE was in attendance at the Plastics in European Freshwater Environments in Berlin, Germany. The conference ran from June 21st to 22nd. 

    • May 2016:

    EPHEMARE Facebook Page:

    New publication in Marine and Environmental Research 

    A new paper on 'Plastics and microplastics in the oceans: From emerging pollutants to emerged threat' by Carlo Giacomo Avio, Stefania Gorbi and Francesco Regoli (Marche Polytechnic University - EPHEMARE) has been published in the Marine and Environmental Rsearch Journal. To access the paper click on the image below. 


    -MICRO 2016 - Lanzarote, Spain 25-27 May. EPHEMARE gave two presentations at this years MICRO conference in Lanzarote. Francesco Regoli, Stefania Gorbi and Carlo Giacomo Avio from Marche Polytechnic gave a presentation to delegates on the Extraction and Charecterization of Microplastics in Marine Organisms Sampled at Giglio Island after the Removal of the Costa Concordia Wreck 

    Stefania Gorbi, Francesco Regoli and Carlo Giacomo Avio also gave two poster presentations on 'Presence, distribution and charecterization of microplastics in commercial organisms from the Adriatic Sea' and 'Toxiological effects of Microplastics in Marine Environment - EPHEMARE'. 

    Click on the images above to access the poster and presentation. 

    A brief summary on the International MICRO Conference can also be found by clicking on the image below. 

    -SETAC Europe - Nantes, France 23-26 May. EPHEMARE gave two presentations at this years SETAC Europe conference. Annika Batel and Thomas Braunbeck from the University of Heidelberg presented a poster on their study of Alternative Pathways of Microplastic Exposure - Microplastics and Associated POPs on Zebrafish Gills (Danio Rerio) and Zebrafish Eggs


     Annika Batel also gave a presentation on the Trophic Transfer of Microplastics and Associated POPs     


    Click on the images above to access the poster and presentation. 

    -EPHEMARE at the Teaching Laboratories 19-22 May, Ancona, Italy 

    The laboratory of Ecotoxicoly of UPM participated at the event “TIPICITA’ IN BLU”, which was held in Ancona (19-22 may 2016), to rise public awareness on important sea issues, including Blue economy and Blue growth, seafood safety, protection of the marine environment.

    During these days, several teaching laboratories were organized for students aged from 8 to 18 years, in order to disseminate information on the Adriatic Sea environment (ADRIATICOLAB). In this context, our Lab (UPM) presented a lab activity titled: A “SEA” OF PLASTIC (un “mare” di palstica - in Italian). Several games and practical experiences related to the presence of plastic and microplastics in the sea were proposed; moreover through the use of microscopes, children and parents had the possibility to observe the microplastics in personal care products (exfoliants, nail varnishes, etc.) and small fragments of plastic found some in marine organisms sampled in the Adriatic sea .

    • The ECOTOX Research Group from the University of Vigo is looking for a postdoctoral researcher for EPHEMARE Project interested in applying for a Marie Sklodowska Curie Individual Fellowship 2016.  For more information on our host offer for the research project please visit the following link:
    • March 2016:

      -EPHEMARE was represented at the Polytalk 2016 - by our project partners from the SPHERE group of the University of Antwerp (Belgium). Polytalk is a European Plastics Industry Summit and organised by the plastics industry for all key players: industries using plastics, retailers, policy-makers, NGOs, media and academia. PolyTalk 2016 took place in Brussels and focused specifically on Marine Litter, a key issue for the image of plastics and corresponding business, which is global and very complex, involving a multitude of actors.
    • February 2016:

      -The EPHEMARE WP leaders traveled to Madrid for the 17th of February 2016 to take part in the Ecological Aspects of Microplastics Projects Kick-off Meeting This meeting provided an opportunity for the WP leads of all four approved projects, following the 2014 JPI Oceans Pilot Call on ecological effects of microplastics, to introduce themselves, discuss cooperation and coordination and align related activities.
    • January 2016:

      -The EPHEMARE project Kick off meeting took place in San Pedro, Mucia, Spain on the 19th and 20th of January, 2016. The meeting brought experts from Spain, France, Italy, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Ireland and the UK together and allowed face to face meeting with project partners facilitating great discussions about the EPHEMARE investigation into the toxic effects of microplastics on marine organisms.




    The content of this webpage does not reflect the official opinion of the JPI Oceans. Responsibility for the information and views expressed lies entirely with the project partners.

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