Title: Monitoring Plastic Pollution in the Canadian Arctic: What we have done, and future planning
Speaker: Jennifer Provencher (ECCC)
Date: January 18 2022, 11:00 AM
Link to the webinar
Plastic pollution is now a pervasive global pollutant. The fate and effects of plastic pollution is largely unknown, and the Arctic is not immune to both local and distant sources of plastic pollution. In the environment, plastic pollution represent a complex set of pollutants including physical plastic pieces made from a diverse of polymers. Plastic pieces can range of mega-plastics such as abandoned-lost-discarded fishing gear, down to microplastics that can be ingested by species. In the Arctic, while the longest and richest data from over 17 years of ingested plastic data from seabirds, studies have now examined ingested plastics in dozens of species, including invertebrates, fish, seals, walrus, polar bears and whales. Plastic also have a chemical contaminant component, with plastic additives known to be toxic to biota. It is within this context that the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) under the Arctic Council formed a new expert group, the Litter and Microplastics Expert Group (LMEG), to review and advise on plastic pollution monitoring and research. In 2021, the LMEG released a series of reports that proposes a pan-Arctic litter and microplastic monitoring program, with an accompanying set of technical documents to help harmonize and standardize practices throughout the region. This talk will review the state of knowledge of plastic pollution and additives in the Canadian Arctic, and discuss how future sampling will help expand our understanding of plastic pollution.