Global research guidelines to be set to get better grasp on extent of marine waste

By Sho Funakoshi / Yomiuri Shimbun CorrespondentWASHINGTON — Groups of researchers from Japan, the United States, Europe and other regions studying marine waste plan to draw up international guidelines aimed at getting a better grasp on the actual situation, it has been learned.

At present, there have been no unified standards for survey items and methods regarding the vast amount of plastic and other debris clogging the world’s oceans, making it difficult to compare and share research results.

It is foreseen that by using measurements obtained following the guidelines, researchers will be able to draw up a “pollution map,” which will be used to clarify the situation and verify the effects of measures that governments are taking.

According to sources in Japan and the United States, a policy for setting the guideline will be decided at “Ocean Obs’ 19,” an international conference of marine researchers to be held in Hawaii in mid-September. The guidelines will be drawn up next year at the earliest.

About 1,200 participants from over 70 countries will attend the conference.

Participating organizations include the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from the United States.

From Japan, the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), the Meteorological Research Institute and the University of Tokyo are among the entities that will attend.

Plastic waste has been discovered as far as both polar regions as the pollution expands throughout the world’s oceans. By contaminating fish and other marine life, it can also negatively affect the humans that eat them, thus deepening the crisis.

Worldwide research was stepped up greatly starting this decade, but the research methods varied widely, and the full extent of the situation remains unknown.Speech

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