WESTPAC Training Workshop on Distribution, Source, Fate and Impacts of Marine Microplastics in Asia and the Pacific, Phuket, Thailand, 20-22 September 2017

20 Sep 2017 - 22 Sep 2017


Since its industry manufacture in the mid-20th century, annual global plastic production has increased exponentially, reaching 322 million metric tons in 2015 (Plastic Europe 2016). As a result of deliberate dispose and accidental release, 10% of all plastic will end up as wastes in the marine environments (Jambeck et al. 2015). By 2050, it is expected to be more plastics than fish (by weight) in the oceans (Neufeld et al. 2016). Plastic marine debris (PMD) contamination is thought to be capable of posing a planetary boundary threat (Jahnke et al. 2017).

Microplastics (MPs), which had a diameter of less than 5 mm (Thompson et al. 2004; Arthur et al. 2009), may originate from weathered remnants of larger plastic waste (secondary MPs) and engineered micron-sized plastic products (primary MPs), such as plastic nurdles, cosmetics and cleaning agents, and industrial shot-blasting abrasive. MPs are causing global-scale exposure and had been recovered throughout the world’s oceans from the Arctic to the Antarctic (Sul et al. 2013; Cózar et al. 2014; Obbard et al. 2014); from the sea surface and shoreline down to the seafloor (Cauwenberghe et al. 2013; Fischer et al. 2014; Woodall et al. 2014; Zhao et al. 2017).

Due to its ubiquitous nature and minute size, MPs are available for the uptake by various organisms in the marine environments. The consumption of plastic particles by marine biota can cause sublethal physical injury, input and accumulate the virulence of pathogens, chemical contaminants (containing both chemical additives and reversibly orbed water borne-pollutants), potentially pass these toxicities to the upper trophic levels (including humans) (Rochman et al. 2013; Zettler et al. 2013; Rochman 2015; Mincer et al. 2016). To date, many mechanisms by which MPs interact with individual organisms and render adverse impacts have been identified in the laboratory dose-response experiments (Rochman et al. 2016).

Nevertheless, the deleterious effects of MPs on population, community and ecosystem level upon the ecotoxicological studies at environmentally realistic concentrations are still poorly understood (Rochman et al. 2016; Sussarellu et al. 2016). Risk assessments of ecological impacts in nature associated with plastic hazards is of critical importance to help decision-maker improve legislation to mitigate PMD accumulation (Rochman 2016; Rochman et al. 2016).

Marine MP concentrations have been proved to be statistically and positively correlated with population density and proportion of urban/suburban development (Yonkos et al. 2014; Zhao et al. 2015). The East Asia is one of the most populous regions in the world. Approximately 75% of the population in the East Asian region, which is close to 2 billion people, lives in the coastal areas. The region has experienced rapid population growth with economic development in coastal areas, putting pressure on coastal and marine ecosystems. The region is also known for one of the world’s highest concentration of shipping and fishing vessels activities. The ongoing rate of urban and industrial development along the coastlines in the region suggests that marine litter will continue to be a major problem in marine pollution. Asian coastlines have been considered as one of the major contributions to the largest mass of plastic marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean (Jambeck et al. 2015).

Considering the status of marine MP pollution in the Western Pacific, the IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC) established, at its 11th Session (21-23 April 2017, Qingdao, China), a regional programme with a view to assisting its Member States to comprehensively understand the distribution, source, fate and effects of marine MPs in the Western Pacific and provide scientific guidance for remediation measures. Meanwhile, standardized and internationally accepted sampling and analyzing procedures to compare spatiotemporal MP pollution across marine environments, shall be considered.

Training Workshop Objectives

The first training workshop aims to

 establish a marine MP monitoring and research network among scientists, institutions, and agencies in the region;

 share existing MP monitoring and research approaches, learn from each other and further develop regional capability of research and monitoring on marine MPs in the region;

 identify challenges and gaps in monitoring and assessing the impacts of MPs on marine ecosystems;

 discuss the possibility of developing a joint-monitoring plan on the distribution and concentration of MPs, and a shared ecological risk assessment model for MPs in the region.

Based on outputs of this training workshop, the second regional training workshop, supposed to be organized about 6-10 months later, will aim to: (i) recommend the most efficient, robust, and cost-effective monitoring approaches for MP investigation in this region; (ii) map gaps in current capabilities and select pilot study areas for the application of the identified approaches; (iii) construct a joint-monitoring plan for the occurrence and abundance of MPs; (iv) identify assessment indicators of MP ecological risk and impacts on marine ecosystem in the region.

The third training workshop, one year after the second one, will be convened to assess and refine monitoring approaches and compare the collected data, provide solutions to any technical problems incurred, and come up with a roadmap for the future.

Tentative Programme for the First Training Workshop

The first training workshop will take place in Phuket, Thailand, 20-22 September 2017. The training workshop would comprise plenary and breakout sessions.

During plenary sessions, invited keynote presentations will be given about marine MP research, including the status of marine MP distributions in global and regional, known potential impacts on marine organisms and ecosystems; global programmes on marine MP research and monitoring efforts; and present practices of ecological risk assessment on marine MPs to marine ecosystems. National experts nominated and/or identified from each country will be invited to provide reports on research and monitoring efforts on the effects of marine MPs on marine organism and Ecosystems, or related activities, in their respective countries.

The participants will break into several groups (probably by sub-regions) to have detailed discussions about gaps, challenges, and opportunities to initiate a cooperative regional network to monitor and conduct research on the impacts of marine MPs on marine ecosystems.

Qualification of Invited Experts

Preferably one or two scientists who have experience in conducting marine MP related research and monitoring, and are able to lead and carry out marine MP research and monitoring in their countries will be invited from each country.

Location Phuket, Thailand
Event Type Technical Workshops and Trainnings
Organisers Staff Participants

IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC)

Orathai Pongruktham

Wichin Suebpala
Emily Curren
Juying Wang
TuanLinh VO
Tam Pham
Agus Sudaryanto
Joseph Dominic Palermo
Huahong Shi
Orathai Pongruktham
Joleen Chan
Corry Manullang
Supakij Suttiruengwong
Agung Dhamar Syakti
Jitraporn Phaksopa
Won Joon Shim
Lei HE
Tam Pham
Suchana Chavanich


# Name Job Title Affiliation Address Telephone Fax
1 Mr. Wichin Suebpala Researcher Marine Biodiversity Research Group, Faculty of Science, Ramkhamhaeng University Marine Biodiversity Research Group Department of Biology, Faculty of Science Ramkhamhaeng University Huamark, Bangkapi, Bangkok, Thailand 10310 6623108415 6623108415
2 Ms Emily Curren PhD Student Tropical Marine Science Institute, National University of Singapore 18 Kent ridge road, Singapore 119227 +65-81008127 +65-81008127
3 Dr. Juying Wang Deputy Director-General National Marine Environmental Monitoring Center National Marine Environmental Monitoring Center, SOA 86-411-84782526 86-411-84782586
4 Mr. TuanLinh VO Researcher Institute of Oceanography 1 Cau Da Str., Vinh Nguyen, Nha Trang, Khanh Hoa, Viet Nam +84 908 411 914 +84258 590 034
5 Mr Tam Pham Researcher Institute of Oceanography (IO) 1 Cau Da Street, Vinh Nguyen District, Nha Trang City, Khanh Hoa Province, Vietnam 84.258.3590036 84.258.3590034
6 Dr. Agus Sudaryanto Researcher Laboratory for Marine Survey Technology, Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT) Jl. MH. Thamrin 8, Jakarta, Indonesia +62-21-316 9428 +62-21-310 8149
7 Mr. Joseph Dominic Palermo Sr. Research Ass. / PhD Student The Marine Science Institute Velasquez St., College of Science, University of the Philippines, Diliman, 1101 Quezon City (632) 922 3959 (632) 924-7678
8 Dr. Huahong Shi Professor East China Normal University 3663 North Zhongshan Road Shanghai 200062 China 862162455593 862162546441
9 Dr Orathai Pongruktham Programme Officer IOC Sub-Commission of the Western Pacific UNESCO-IOC Regional Office for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC) c/o the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources 9th Fl. The Government Complex Building B 120 Moo 3, Chaengwattana Rd., Lak Si, Bangkok 10210, Thailand +66 2 141 1449 +66 2 143 92 45
10 Ms Joleen Chan Research Assistant National University of Singapore National University of Singapore Department of Biological Sciences 14 Science Drive 4, Block S3 #02-01 Singapore 117557 +65 96949195 +65 67792486
11 Mrs Corry Manullang Researcher Indonesian Institute of Sciences Jl. Syaranamual Guru-Guru Poka, Ambon - Molucca (Indonesia). +6282248552230 +62911322700
12 Asst.Prof. Dr.-Ing. Supakij Suttiruengwong University lecturer Departments of Materials Science and Engineering Faculty of Engineering and Industrial Technology, Silpakorn University, Nakhon Pathom +6634241708 +6634241708
13 Dr. Agung Dhamar Syakti Dean Raja Ali Haji Maritime University Science and Fisheries Faculty - Raja Ali Haji Maritime University, Jl. Politeknik Senggarang-Tanjungpinang, Riau Islands Province, 29100, Indonesia 62-771-7004642 62-771-703899
14 Ms Jitraporn Phaksopa Lecterer Department of Marine Science, Faculty of Fisheries, Kasetsart University Kasetsart University 50 Ngam Wong Wan Rd, Ladyaow Chatuchak Bangkok 10900 +66993207766 +6625614287
15 Dr Won Joon Shim Principal Research Scientist Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology 41 Jangmok-1-gil Geoje 53201 Republic of Korea +82-55-639-8671 +82-55-639-8689
16 Prof. ZULFIGAR YASIN RESEARCHER Centre for Marine & Coastal Studies (CEMACS), Universiti Sains Malaysia Centre for Marine & Coastal Studies (CEMACS) Universiti Sains Malaysia, 11800 Minden, Penang, MALAYSIA. +6046533500 +6046565125
17 Dr Lei HE Associate Professor Sun Yat-Sen University School of Marine Sciences East campus of Sun Yat-Sen University Guangzhou Higher Education Mega Center 86-18924236916 86-2039332160
20 Mr. Tam Pham Researcher Institute of Oceanography (IO) 01 Cau Da Street, Vinh Nguyen District, Nha Trang City, Khanh Hoa Province (84.258) 3590203 (84.258) 3590034
21 Dr Suchana Chavanich Associate Professor Chulalongkorn University Faculty of Science, Department of Marine Science 66818112700 6622550780

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