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June 19, 2015

Microplastics found throughout Baltic


Marine litter is a global issue for the world’s oceans. Plastic litter, especially, is a problem, as it degrades into smaller pieces, called microplastics, which can get eaten by marine organisms, and thereby gradually build up in the marine and coastal environment. It can even end up on your plate!  

Last year, Oceana was invited to participate in a research expedition in the Baltic Sea, arranged by the Swedish university Örebro and Pangaea Exploration, with the aim to study microplastics in the sea. I participated on behalf of Oceana, and joined a week-long leg, where we headed to do sampling in the Gulf of Bothnia. Onboard the sailing boat Sea Dragon were researchers, students and other relevant stakeholders. A film crew from the well-known Swedish Folke Ryden Production company also took part in the expedition, aiming to do a documentary on the issue.


Since the expedition, university researchers have studied the collected samples. Their results are now ready to be presented, and they are worrying: microplastics were recorded in all parts of the Baltic Sea and Kattegat! Oceana is indeed concerned about these findings, and urges decision-makers around the Baltic Sea to carefully consider these worrying results, when deciding about the future of the Baltic Sea.

The documentary made by Folke Ryden Production provides a good description of the problem with plastic litter. The film has been shown at last week’s Political Meeting at Bornholm, Denmark, and will also be shown at the coming Swedish equivalent, Almedalen Political Festival in end of June. You can watch it here. We highly recommend it.