Panel 1: Civic Laboratory of Environmental Action Research

A review of marine plastic pollution in the environment of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
Ammendolia, J., Liboiron, F., Bradshaw, H., Dawe, N., Melvin, J., Novacefski, M., Saturno, J., Wells, E., Mather, C., Liboiron, M

Plastic ingestion in Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua): results from a citizen science
monitoring project on the southeast coast of Newfoundland, Canada

Citizen science tools, practices, and ethics for monitoring marine plastics developed in a feminist laboratory

Comments 6

  1. Morena Justine

    I have just had the chance to watch your presentation over a morning coffee in my office! What a great way to enjoy morning tea:). I thoroughly enjoyed your presentation. I was particularly impressed by the longitudinal and multidimensional nature of the work you and your team have done. The recommendations for the standardisation of testing is a very important one and message I have been hearing other marine scientists echo around the world. Another example is in terms of agreeing on a universal size limit for microplastic and decontamination protocols in labs. Can you or your team offer any the Newfoundland fishing industry any locally appropriate and practical solutions to reduce/eliminate plastic fishing gear debris? Another question, were types of plastics quantified in the study?

    Thank you again for your presentation.

  2. After watching the full panel I am now even more inspired by the work of CLEAR to work ‘for’ and ‘with’ our local community to determine just how much microplastic is in our ‘awa’ (te reo Maori [Maori language] for river). One of our regional rivers, the Whanganui, was the first in the world to attain ‘personhood’ status in March this year: So any kind of pollution (including plastic pollution) is a denigration of this sacred body and a further harm to its people. So I hope for future communication with the members of this panel for further guidance. One question for all of you: Do you see any cultural changes in cod fishing or consumption (in addition to their involvement in this community science project) with this building evidence of plastic contamination?

    1. Hi Trisia,

      If you’re interested in building instruments for monitoring, you can find some open source plans here:
      If you’re doing basic monitoring to look around and learn about your awa, I recommend BabyLegs:

      There are no changes in cod consumption after our presentations because the results were interpreted by communities to mean they had good, low contamination fish. We agree. Plus, as a culturally important food, we hope that people don’t eat less of it. If people come to understand the food as dangerously contaminated, we’d work to reduce plastic pollution or find areas with less polluted fish so people could continue to eat their country foods.
      We’ve been invited back to some of the communities for continued monitoring so we can keep an eye on the levels.

  3. Thanks Clear Lab for all your presentations,
    really good food for thought, especially about local requirements of research that challenge standardisations and how citizen science collaborates with communities.
    #Max, I really love your photo taken in midst of the Atlantic Gyre. I used it during several talks and presentations and it is always interesting to see how this confronts the conventional idea of “the garbage carpet” etc. – and so it is a good starting point to focus differently on proposed enginerial solutions of the problem. I think this is also a big issue for a feminist science question, how do we challenge simplistic problematisations that always come along with the ‘right’ solution which is often some kind of bigness technologica fix…
    In addition, I would be very interested if you can say a bit more about your critique how Chris Jordan’s photos are interpreted/misunderstood– because they are so prominent or even iconic in the discussion about ocean plastics.

    1. Hi Sven,
      Nice to hear from you again! I think a major part of feminist science is to be able to articulate problems in all of their scientific, social, economic, and technical complexity. That includes ingestion. The Jordan photos are hyper-legible and seem to say that consumer waste (such as litter) kills birds. Except plastics don’t kill birds, especially albatross (there are many studies on this– excerpts from some below), and consumer actions won’t impact plastic pollution at any scale that matters to the problem. Some people might say that any publicity is good publicity, except we are firm that articulating the problem in certain ways simultaneously articulates certain solutions and not others. Actions that deal with industry, with endocrine disruptors, etc are left out of the Jordan photos. They’re very charismatic, but they are also misleading. Since plastics are a new form of pollutant, paying close attention to how they cause harm is crucial to intervening in the problem in a way that actually impacts the problem.

      Best regards,

      “In a study on Sand Island, Midway Atoll, in 1987, no Laysan Albatross chick deaths, impactions or ulcerations in proventricular [stomach] linings were attributed to ingested plastic” (Sileo el al. 1990).
      In a 14 year study of plastic ingestion by seabirds, “we found no evidence that seabird health was affected by the presence of plastic, even in species containing the largest quantities,” including albatross (Moster & Lee 1992- north atlantic seabirds (1975-1989)).
      An experiment that fed plastics to petrels “suggest[ed] that plastic does not hamper digestive efficiency” (Ryan and Jackson 1987).
      “[T]he results are not evidence of a cause-and-effect link between plastic ingestion with chick death. While it is possible that the death of healthy chicks may result from ingested plastic, it is also possible that unhealthy chicks eat greater amounts of plastic from the ground as a result of their poor condition” (Auman 1997).

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