OCEANS 2019 Seattle - Marine Debris Town Hall

Town Hall Flyer
IEEE OES Initiative
2020 Cascais Workshop
2019 Brest Workshop
Brest 2018 Workshop

Science and Technology for advancing global sustainability and societal information

Tuesday, October 29, 2019 18:00 - 20:00

Marine debris is of growing global concern. Increasing material consumption and plastic production contribute to more marine litter and have resulted in estimates that over 8 million tonnes of plastic leak into the ocean each year. While quantitative information on production and use of plastics is to a large extent available, the fate of plastics discarded or leaked into the environment is highly uncertain. In particular, knowledge of how much plastic at different scales down to micro and nano levels reaches the ocean and the trajectories of the plastic in the ocean remain poorly known.

The Earth observation community so far has not managed to establish a global tracking and information system that would provide quantitative information on where and how plastics move in the ocean and allow the identification of the points where marine plastic pollution could be reduced most effectively. A necessary first step in addressing marine litter includes establishing a knowledge base for the amount of marine litter that has entered the ocean. In order to establish this knowledge base, the right actors need to be involved and they require a global platform to coordinate monitoring marine litter and informing action.

Panel session from 18:00 to 19:00

  • Information needs for marine plastics and other debris: SDG 14.1 indicators (Emily Smail, NOAA/ GEO Blue Planet)
  • Bringing the Knowledge of Plastic Debris in the Oceans to Society (Hans-Peter Plag, MARI-ODU)
  • Challenges to monitoring plastics in the oceans: coupling observation technologies and circulation models (RenĂ© Garello, IMT Atlantique / IEEE OES)

Discussion sessions from 19:00 to 20:00 pm

The panel session was followed by a discussion session where the audience participated in a more detailed discussion of the issues and next steps. The discussion touched upon a wide range of topics including the societal challenge of reducing the use of plastics in an economy that has developed a high dependency on plastics, detecting and monitoring plastics in the environment and in the oceans, understanding the impacts of plastics on the biosphere including humans, and approaches to a better linking of science and polciy.

For further information please contact Elisabeth Creed (elcreed@ieee.org) and René Garello (r.garello@ieee.org).

This Town Hall is sponsored by: