Collection & Assessment of macro-plastic and other beach Pollution (CAP)

Proposed study of one or more stretches of beach in Bockfjorden in summer 2019 to count and categorise macro plastic and other pollution. Subsequently, to clear this and as much additional beach as is practicable of seaborne rubbish. This should provide a baseline for assessment of rubbish accumulation rates in Bockfjorden.

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  • field work
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  • oceanography
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  • human dimensions / environmental impacts / environmental assessments
  • human dimensions / environmental impacts / contaminant levels/spills

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Bockfjorden is a relatively enclosed area of sea fjord surrounded on three sides by a variety of strand environments, these being influenced by the dominant terrestrial sediment input, this is turn dictated by the local lithology and surface processes (wave, tidal, fluvial, glacial, high angle sub-aerial erosion, etc). Using the methodology provided under the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic by the OSPAR Commission, modified for use in the Mediterranean by DeFishGear, only beaches with low to moderate angles of repose of 1.5 to 4.5o are considered. This will exclude shallow angle tidal mudflat type environments such as that at the mouth of Watnelieoyra. Beaches with breeding sea bird or seal colonies or other environmentally sensitive areas will be avoided. It is intended that one or more areas of beach, each 100 m long and stretching from the tide line to the effective back of the beach, will be studied. In line with the standard methodology, these areas will be separated by at least 50 m. It is proposed to utilise a drone to provide aerial images of each of the areas studied and there environs. This should allow the overall distribution of the waste to be mapped and to set each area in the wider context of the landscape. For the purposes of this study items with a long dimension of not less than 2.5 cm are considered to be “macro”. Each piece of debris will be classified as per the OSPAR classification scheme and tallied. This will help identify the likely source of much of the rubbish, for example lost fishing gear. An analysis of the types of rubbish and, where possible, their likely provenance will be carried out. The tallied rubbish (and smaller items where practicable) will be collected and separated into types (e.g. plastics, wood) and, dependent on available space and weight, as far as possible be brought back to Longyearbyen for safe disposal or recycling. Similarly, if time and boat capacity allows, rubbish from beach sections beyond the discrete study areas will also be collected. The exact locations of all areas that are logged and all areas that are cleared will be recorded. It is hoped that the Arctic Research Group, or other expeditions, can revisit the study sites in coming years to assess the rate of rubbish accumulation and the variation in the types of rubbish over time. Results will be shared with Research in Svalbard, OSPAR and other interested bodies.

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