This study measured spatial distribution of marine debris stranded on beaches in South Eleuthera, The Bahamas. Citizen science, fetch modeling, relative exposure index and predictive mapping were used to determine marine debris source and abundance. Citizen scientists quantified debris type and abundance on 16 beaches within three coastal exposures (The Atlantic Ocean, Great Bahama Bank and The Exuma Sound) in South Eleuthera. Marine debris, (~2.5 cm or larger) on each beach was monitored twice between March–May and September–November 2013 at the same locations using GPS. Approximately, 93% of all debris items were plastic with plastic fragments (≤2.5 cm) being the most common. There were spatial differences (p ≤ 0.0001) in plastic debris abundance between coastal exposures. Atlantic Ocean beaches had larger quantities of plastic debris by weight and by meter (m) of shoreline. Stranded plastic may be associated with Atlantic Ocean currents associated with leakage from the North Atlantic sub-tropical gyre.
Marine debris, Plastic pollution monitoring, Citizen science, Relative exposure index (REI), Eleuthera, Bahamas, Atlantic Ocean
Ambrose, K.K., Box, C., Boxall, J., Brooks, A., Eriksen, M., Fabres, J., Fylakis G., Walker, T.R., 2019. Spatial trends and drivers of marine debris accumulation on shorelines in South Eleuthera, The Bahamas using citizen science. Marine Pollution Bulletin 142: 145–154.
Risk perception has a significant impact on how society reacts to a given risk. There have been cases where a mismatch between the actual risk and the perception of it has led to poor decisions on societal initiatives, such as inappropriate regulatory measures. It is therefore important that the perception of risk is based on an informed foundation acknowledging the biases and drivers that inevitably go with risk perception. Plastic pollution differs in regard to other classical risks, such as those posed by chemicals or genetically modified organisms (GMOs), since the pollution is more visible and already has a significant magnitude. At the same time, everyone is familiar with using plastic, and our daily lives are highly dependent on the use of plastic. This offers some potential to strengthen the societal risk perception and subsequently implement effective measures to address the pollution.
In this chapter, we define eight risk perception drivers (voluntariness, control, knowledge, timing, severity, benefit, novelty, and tangibility) and relate these drivers to plastic pollution. We discuss the process in which plastic pollution has been recognized as an important environmental problem by scientists, the public, and policy makers and elaborate on how the eight risk drivers have influenced this process. Plastic pollution has several of the characteristics that can enhance people’s perception of the risk as being important and which has generated great awareness of the problem. The chapter finally discusses how risk perception can be improved by greater stakeholder involvement and utilization of citizen science and thereby improve the foundation for timely and efficient societal measures.
Citizen science, Plastic pollution, Public participation, Risk perception, Stakeholder involvement
Syberg K., Hansen S.F., Christensen T.B., Khan F.R., 2018. Risk Perception of Plastic Pollution: Importance of Stakeholder Involvement and Citizen Science. In: Wagner M., Lambert S. (eds.) Freshwater Microplastics. The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry, vol 58. Springer, Cham