British Antarctic Survey plastics in the ocean challenges and solutions





DATE: 7th March 2018
TIME: 9am-7pm
VENUE: Aurora Cambridge, High Cross, Madingley Road, CB3 OET


British Antarctic Survey is hosting a workshop in Cambridge to bridge science, policy and business to explore solutions for reducing and mitigating ocean plastic pollution. 

With around 5 million tonnes of plastic entering our oceans each year, recent estimates suggest that there will be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050. Its presence on shorelines, in surface waters and at depth, poses a significant threat to global marine ecosystems. Most notably by existing at a range of sizes, plastics can interact with marine life both physically and chemically. Physically, larger plastics can cause entanglements and obstructions and in their smallest form they can be easily consumed by organisms at the base of the food chain. Chemically, plastics have been shown to readily absorb other toxic pollutants in the ocean and are often manufactured with additives which can increase their toxicity. This has implications on marine life which feed on them, including commercial fish species which ultimately poses a threat to human health.


Marine sampling efforts, increasing media awareness through series like BBC Blue Planet II and scientific research on the effects of plastics in the ocean have brought to light the extent of the problem, and have subsequently led to the UK Government announcing a 25 year plan to reduce consumption. Similarly, collaboration is required to effectively find a variety of solutions. Through cross-sectorial presentations, panel discussions and innovation showcases this workshop aims to:


- Facilitate knowledge exchange in order to assess gaps and future actions required;

- Generate solutions-driven networking to identify opportunities for collaboration.


Attendees are welcome from across all sectors, from industry, policy, environmental organisations and academia.


Speakers and panellists include representatives from Sky Ocean Rescue, Mott MacDonald, Unilever, DEFRA, WRAP, UNEP-WCMC, Green Alliance, Plymouth and Exeter Universities, BAS and NERC.










Chair AM - Hans Jensen, UKWIR
Chair PM - Abigail Entwistle, Fauna & Flora International



Professor Jane Francis, BAS
Professor Duncan Wingham, NERC
Professor Richard Thompson, Plymouth University
Giles Harvey, SKY Ocean Rescue
Professor Tamara Galloway, Exeter University
Rowan Byrne, Mott MacDonald
Barry Turner, British Plastics Federation
Dr Tarquin Dorrington, DEFRA
Dustin Benton, Green Alliance
Ruth Fletcher, UNEP-WCMC
Corinne Martin, UNEP-WCMC
Professor Susan Owens, University of Cambridge
Marcus Gover, WRAP




Global Food Security UK research cross Government programme






The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) is an international leader in Antarctic science that is relevant to global problems. We deliver science that is excellent, exciting, and innovative. We also provide world-leading research infrastructure that enables scientists from the UK, and colleagues from many nations, to work safely and effectively in the polar regions.


Understanding how the Earth works, and in particular how it is responding to ever-increasing human pressures, is one of science’s greatest challenges. Within the Earth system, the Polar Regions, although geographically remote, are of special relevance. Antarctic and Arctic sea-ice cover and the great Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets are important parts of the climate system. The polar environment and ecology provides a sensitive indicator of global change. Antarctic sediments and ice cores tell us about the history of past climate, which can help us predict the climate of the future. Seizing these opportunities for globally important research will teach us more about the environmental processes that affect everyone.


BAS is in regular dialogue with policy officials within UK Government departments including the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Foreign & Commonwealth Polar Regions Department, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).




British Antactic Survey biological ampling acoustic instuments underwater robots

NERC National Environment Research Council






A rapidly increasing global population, climate change and intensified pressure upon vital resources are collectively threatening global food security.

By 2030, 62% of fish eaten by humans is expected to be produced from aquaculture. In the UK, aquaculture is a key strategic food production sector, as production from UK aquaculture is the largest in the European Union. Sustainable expansion of the UK industry requires improved understanding of the basic biology, health and environmental interactions of farmed finfish and shellfish. In recognition of this importance, NERC and the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), as contributors to the UK Global Food Security (GSF) programme, are acting to turn around the declining investment made by research councils in recent years.

In September 2014, NERC and BBSRC announced a Sustainable Aquaculture call for collaborative proposals to support aquaculture-related research. The total funding available for this call was £6 million, with BBSRC and NERC each committing £2·5 million. Additional co-funding from the Agri-Food & Biosciences Institute (AFBI), Marine Scotland and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) was available to cover the costs of their researchers on proposals. In addition, the Food Standard Agency (FSA) and FSA in Scotland considered co-funding contributions on a case-by-case basis for projects that aligned with their policy objectives relating to food safety.







THE NERC awards a number of Open Innovation Placements. Placements work within a host organisation, on a specified project or one of their choosing, which is organised independently of NERC. Researchers will explore and demonstrate how partner organisations can make use of scientific knowledge, data, models or other tools to understand and manage their impacts and/or dependencies on the environment. NERC will cover 100% of the placement's salary on a pro-rata basis, including superannuation, National Insurance and specific allowances, plus travel and other associated costs. Placements cover direct costs only and do not include overheads.

FOCUS OF THE PLACEMENTS - NERC science can make an important contribution to economic growth and quality of life. For the UK to remain competitive in a global economy, we need to ensure that scientific advances are translated swiftly into a form that is useful to stakeholders including business, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the government. These stakeholders use NERC research for many purposes, including:

* providing the scientific evidence necessary to inform public policy and business strategy as our environment alters

* protecting people and minimising costs through better forecasting of environmental hazards

* creating wealth by providing business with the starting point for new or improved products, services and solution.

ELIGIBILITY - Standard RCUK eligibility rules - external link for NERC apply to this call. Applicants must be resident in the UK and be employed by an eligible UK research organisation. Eligible applicants include:

* PhD students (providing they are at least in their second year of research) are eligible providing they are working within the NERC remit. Their studentships do not need to be directly funded by NERC.


* Researchers, at any career stage, who can demonstrate how NERC funded research could be used to make a real difference to non-academic organisations.








Biotechnical & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
Polaris House
North Star Avenue
United Kingdom



Natural Environment Research Council
Polaris House, North Star Avenue
Swindon, SN2 1EU
United Kingdom
01793 411500
Fax 01793 411501

Tessa Edgecombe - Senior Programme Manager (Innovation)
01793 442610

Lizzie Hinchcliffe - Programme Manager (Innovation)
01793 411940

Jodie Mitchell - Senior Programme Manager (Innovation)
07920 700057


Aurora Cambridge
British Antarctic Survey
High Cross
CB3 0ET 
Tel: +44 (0)1223 221400
Fax: +44 (0)1223 362616


Cambridge Cleantech Ltd
The Future Business Centre
Kings Hedges Road
Tel. 01223 750017



Circular Ocean Northern Arctic Programme fishing nets and ropes



CIRCULAR OCEAN - In pursuit of innovative and sustainable solutions for marine plastic waste, the Circular Ocean project seeks to inspire enterprises and entrepreneurs to realise the hidden opportunities of discarded fishing nets and ropes in the Northern Periphery & Arctic (NPA) region.

As increasing levels of marine litter is particularly pertinent to the NPA region, the Circular Ocean project will act as a catalyst to motivate and empower remote communities to develop sustainable and green business opportunities that will enhance income generation and retention within local regions.

Through transnational collaboration and eco-innovation, Circular Ocean will develop, share and test new sustainable solutions to incentivise the collection and reprocessing of discarded fishing nets and assist the movement towards a more circular economy.







In almost all walks of life humans rely on plastic, in many cases without even realizing it. Our clothing , goods and food packaging is plastic reliant. Every time we wash our clothes micro fibres enter the waste disposal systems that are provided by water suppliers and fed into our treatment and sewage systems, finally finding its way into our rivers and thence into the oceans. Clean rivers are thus essential as the link between human intervention and the natural marine world. We must then act responsibly in ensuring that the water cycle that cleanses and nourishes our land is not unduly infected by industrial and urban concentrations.






British Antarctic Survey (BAS) is one of the world's leading environmental research centres and is responsible for the UK's national scientific activities in Antarctica. See their website for more information on what they do and who they are.








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