Dr Krishna Kotra, Science Programme Coordinator (Centre Left) with Dr Thomas Maes with students at the seminar. On the right are students at Eton Beach surveying Marine Plastic Litter.
Students and staff of The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Emalus Campus participated in a Marine Litter project survey at Eton Beach in the South of Efate Island, Port Vila, Vanuatu on 27 July, 2017.
The activity was part of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed last year between USP and the London-based Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) under the Commonwealth Marine Economics (CME) and being a partner in their ongoing projects in the country.
Mr Ruben Bakeo Markward, Group Manager, Emalus Campus welcomed the CEFAS team and assured that the campus will support all research activities involving students and staff.
Mr Markward stressed the need for such projects at the Emalus Campus as it leads to capacity building and increases the scientific zeal of students to purse higher studies in the region.
Dr Krishna Kotra, Science Programme Coordinator said students who participated were from Faculty of Science Technology and Environment (FSTE) who are taking Chemistry and Biology as their majors in the Bachelors of Science programme.
Dr Kotra stressed that the aim of student’s participation was to ensure they had on-the-field experience of scientific studies and to transfer skills-based knowledge that would enable them to compete with the best in the world.
“This would also allow students to take back this knowledge to their communities, spread the word of scientific discussions in the country and thus enlighten the public on the responsible usage of plastic,” he said.
As part of the project, students were allowed to collect the plastic litter (micro and macro) along the Eton beach and have them recorded according to their classification in the questionnaire.
This, he said, enabled students to identify not only the type of marine litter but knowing where it originated from. A seminar was presented to students and staff by Dr Thomas Maes, of CEFAS before the start of the survey, enabling them to gain the aim and scope of the project.
Dr Maes, who is leading the Micro Plastics and Marine Litter aspects of CEFAS in his presentation, enlightened the students and staff regarding the global phenomenon of plastic production and usage.
His pictorial and on-the-field site presentation on the effects and aftermaths of the plastics both at micro and macro levels impacting the societies on a global scale had shown the complete plastic life cycle.
He further debated ways of using plastic in everyday life adding that even though Pacific countries are not huge manufactures of plastics, they are gradually habituating its use.
During the Eton beach survey Dr Maes explained the Marine litter survey techniques to the students and staff.
He segregated the plastic marine litter based on the size and usage adding that the longer they stay in the marine environment the bigger the impact towards fish which humans later consume.
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