PlyMSEF Annual Spring Public Lecture 2015
  • National Marine Aquarium, Rope Walk, Coxside, Plymouth PL4 0LF

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This year's Plymouth Marine Science & Education Foundation (PlymSEF) Spring Public Lecture will be given by Professor Richard Thompson from the School of Marine Science and Engineering, Plymouth University.

His lecture, entitled "Marine Debris: Are there solutions to this global environmental problem?" will be introduced by David Gibson, Managing Director of the National Marine Aquarium.

Marine debris is a growing environmental problem. It is widely distributed at the sea surface, on the sea bed and on shorelines. Around 75 per cent of this litter is plastic, with other materials such as glass and metal representing only a small proportion of litter in the oceans. Nearly 700 species are known to encounter marine litter, with many reports of physical harm resulting from entanglement in, and ingestion of plastic.

It is widely acknowledged that plastic litter does not belong in the ocean. It is also clear that the numerous societal benefits that are derived from everyday use of plastics can be achieved without the need for emissions of plastic waste to the environment. Around 8 per cent of world oil pollution is currently used to make plastic items and there is recognition that we need to change the way we produce, use and dispose of plastic items. In this regard a solution to two major environmental problems, our non-sustainable use of fossil carbon (to produce plastics) and accumulation marine litter probably lie in utilising end-of-life plastics as a raw material for new production.

A Q&A session will follow the lecture and Colin Brownlee, Director of the Marine Biological Association and Chair of PlyMSEF 2015 will conclude the evening.

Doors open at 7pm for a 7.30pm start.

All are welcome to this free event but registration is essential via the above link.

About the speaker

Richard Thompson is Professor of Marine Biology at Plymouth University. He specialises in the ecology of shallow water habitats. He obtained his first degree from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1992, followed by a PhD from Liverpool University in 1996. Much of his work over the last decade has focused on marine debris with numerous publications on this topic. In 2004 his team reported on the presence of microplastics in the environment in the journal Science. Subsequent research examined the extent to which microplastics were retained upon ingestion and potential for microplastics to transport pollutants to organisms. He was lead guest editor for a 200 page volume of the scientific journal Philosophical  Transactions of the Royal Society B, focusing on Plastics the Environment and Human Health. He is a coauthor of the European Union Marine Strategy Framework Directive text on marine litter and has recently prepared reports on this topic for the United Nations Global Environment Facility. In 2014 he presented his research to the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, at his Our Ocean meeting in Washington. 

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