The all-woman research team is led by Dr. Catherine Chambers, lead of the UArctic Thematic Network on Arctic Fisheries and Aquaculture and UW program director for Coastal and Marine Management, and partners are Dr. Pernilla Carlsson from the Norwegian Institute for Water Research NIVA, who is also an instructor at UW, Dr. Maria Dam from the Faroese Environmental Agency, Dr. Rachel Hurley from NIVA, and Dr. Inger Lise Nerland Bråte from NIVA.

Most research on marine plastic has focused on marine mammals and birds, and there is a lack of standardized information on plastics in stomachs of commercially important fish species in the Nordic environment. Even when research exists, it is hard to standardize findings due to different laboratory and field collection processes. The one-year project was awarded 325.000 DKK and the funds will support the work of chemically analyzing samples from cod stomachs in Iceland, Norway and the Faroes, and will contribute to one masters thesis.

Plastics are a hot topic and there is often a lack of coordination among researchers, and between research and policy. The research team will therefore move science to policy by creating a list of best practices and protocols for the standardization of the analysis of plastic in fish stomachs, and will specifially take into account small laboratory resources in many rural areas and work towards a protocol that can be applied with few resources.

Results from this project will add important information for maritime industries in all three countries that rely on the image of pristine and clean North Atlantic waters. In addition, healthy marine resources are of utmost importance for food safety and local cultures that are based on long-standing marine traditions in all three areas. The project has a direct contribution to the Nordic Environmental Action Plan 2013-2017 Article 3.4 regarding the marine environment. The impact of marine pollution contains many unknowns and the Action Plan calls for more research on the sources and impacts of marine pollution. This project will also engage the public and private sectors because the knowledge generated will be publicly available and communicated to relevant stakeholders.

Read the original news at the University Centre of the Westfjords website.