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European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet)

EMODnet Chemistry supports Back to Blue’s initiative

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Back to Blue , an initiative of Economist Impact and The Nippon Foundation, is launching a global call to action entitled ‘The Zero-Pollution Ocean: a call to close the evidence gap’.

Based on a discussion paper that Back to Blue has just published, it calls on everyone, including scientists, activists, policymakers, investors and business leaders, to join the discussion on how to lead a coordinated global response to marine pollution.

The Zero-pollution discussion paper initiative  includes research and interviews conducted by Back to Blue for the ‘Invisible Wave: Getting to zero chemical pollution in the ocean’, an in-depth investigation of chemical marine pollution published in 2022.

Among the 17 international experts interviewed are marine data managers and scientists from EMODnet Chemistry. The respondents are mainly policy makers, scientists, business leaders, investors and activists from UN, research institutes and universities from around the world. The report points out that while macroplastics have attracted enormous attention, marine pollution is much more due to invisible contaminants: microplastics, industrial chemicals, urban and river runoff, pollution from shipping and offshore drilling, sewage, air pollution, pharmaceutical contaminants. They make up the invisible wave of pollution in the oceans, which is almost unknown. In fact, respondents said that despite a wealth of oceanographic data being collected, only a small portion is related to marine pollution and tends to focus on specific pollutants. Scientists are far from understanding the extent, nature and impact of marine pollution. Yet decision-makers in the public and private sectors, as well as the general public, are largely unaware of this invisible wave.

The discussion paper lists the fifty-seven national government funds and operate oceanographic data centres or repositories worldwide. EMODnet is cited as one of the most sophisticated oceanographic data collection systems, along with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), China's National Marine Data and Information Service (NMDIS) and the Japanese Oceanographic Data Centre.

The paper also encourages all participants in the call to advocate for key recommendations, such as including the issue of marine pollution - beyond plastics - on the agenda of the 2025 Ocean Conference and other key meetings, as well as developing a strategic plan by 2025 that charts the path to building a comprehensive global understanding of marine pollution. Have your say  and help making visible the invisible wave of marine pollution; deadline for submission if April 30th, 2023!