March 18, 2019
An article by Susan Farady, J.D., assistant professor of marine affairs, titled “Microplastics as a new, ubiquitous pollutant: Strategies to anticipate management and advise seafood consumers,” was recently published in Marine Policy, the leading international journal of ocean policy studies.
In the article, Farady notes that the presence of plastic marine debris in our oceans has emerged rapidly in the last few years as environmental concern urgently in need of attention. She believes it will continue to be a problematic issue for the foreseeable future.
Concerns have been raised about possible adverse health impacts as a result of microplastic ingestion by marine wildlife as well as human seafood consumers, yet, according to Farady, there is very little data to inform appropriate management actions and consumer advice.
She contends that the issue must be addressed immediately. “Now is the time to consider the best strategic choices for the research, management and outreach needed to address priority issues around microplastics,” she writes.
Microplastics, says Farady, are a permanent part of the marine ecosystem. It is essential to anticipate the kinds of management responses and consumer advisories that are needed to respond to this pollutant and to engage in specific research to support targeted and maximally effective interventions.
She advocates for proactivity, using lessons learned from the past. “We have the benefit of experiences with other pollutants and consumer food advice that we should rely on now to anticipate, not just respond to, the management actions needed and the research to support them,” she concludes.