The joint JPI Oceans-ICES open session on 'Microplastics in the Ocean' was held on Wednesday 21st Sept and was chaired by Gunnar Gerdts from AWI (Germany). The other panel members were Annika Jahnke from UFZ (Germany), Sonja Oberbeckmann from IOW (Germany) and Andy Booth from SINTEF (Norway). Gunnar (BASEMAN project), Annika (Weather-MIC
project) and Andy (PLASTOX
project) gave a background and current status for 3 of the 4 JPI Oceans projects currently funded under the microplastics pilot action. Sonja presented results from the nationally funded project MikrOMIK (Microplastics as vector for microbial populations in the ecosystem of the Baltic Sea) in Germany. The final part of the session was allocated to a Q&A round between the audience and the panel members.
The session was in general well attended with an estimated 100-150 people in the audience. The presentations generated a number of scientific questions from the audience. Furthermore, the Q&A session highlighted a number of ongoing initiatives and activities related to microplastics by ICES members and within existing Working Groups (WGs). In particular, the existing WGs on zooplankton and marine chemistry appear to have ongoing activity. The session concluded that there was definite interest in exploring the need for an ICES WG on microplastics and that a good starting point would be to organise a dedicated ICES workshop on the topic. All agreed that the topic of microplastics is important and should have some specific focus within ICES, but that maybe a cross-cutting group or activity would be more appropriate, with the aim of establishing a stronger link the various related activities/initiatives which are ongoing already across existing ICES WGs.