Plastic pollution and climate change are seriously treating aquatic ecosystems and biodiversity but the how these two anthropogenic stressors jointly affect the Ocean and its ecosystems is still poorly understood. The plastic contributes to GHGs global emissions throughout its entire life cycle, from the production to the treatment; as consequences of climate change, extreme events exacerbate plastic pollution by increasing plastic dispersal with serious effects on ocean, ecosystems and ultimately on humans. The ecological impact of microplastics on marine environment and, specifically on plankton and nekton communities, is one of the objectives of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD 2008/56/EC). Furthermore, plastic beachcombing (i.e. the collection of the plastic waste on the beach) is a method for reducing plastic incomes and testing its efficacy according to the Circular Economy Action Plan and the European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy. PLACALA project (Plastic and Climate Change), funded by the Foundation “Compagnia San Paolo” through the call “Re:Actions: Protect the environment, Contribute to future wellbeing”, is promoted by Associazione per il Mare applying Citizens Science approaches to gain didactic, educational and research objectives. On board of the boat ‘Moby Dick’, the participants will: 1. Discover and learn the natural beauties and the anthropogenic threats on the Gulf of La Spezia; they will learn the techniques and tools for ocean monitoring and the available knowledge and data from Smart Bay S. Teresa research institutes; 2. Monitor the ocean health by actively collecting data ‘in the field’ and thus contributing to the knowledge gap of the interaction between marine organisms, microplastic pollution and other anthropogenic stressors. Data and samples collected seasonally will be successively analyzed by ENEA (Casaccia Research Centre (Rome)- Lab. of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) with aim to understand the presence and diffusion of micro and nano plastic within the Gulf of La Spezia. PLACALA will contribute to knowledge and dissemination of the natural peculiarities of the Gulf, where Nature and People coexist within a scenario of high naturalistic value (UNESCO heritage, Priority Protection Sites, Regional and Natural Parks) and highly anthropic areas (marinas for recreational boating, commercial and navy harbors). The ultimate goal of the project is to make youngers and adults aware that this dualistic aspect can persist as long as virtuous behaviors and actions will be developed. Such actions have to focus on knowledge and protection of the marine ecosystems of the Gulf of La Spezia, which represent the Past, with ancient sea-trades such as mussel farming, but also our Future (UNFCCC 2030 Agenda, 14 SDG).
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