SeaPacs – Participatory Citizen Science Against marine pollution and climate change

SeaPacs – Participatory Citizen Science Against marine pollution and climate change

Empowering local communities in understanding anthropogenic changes in marine ecosystems due to pollution and temperature raise, and triggering social inclusivity and participation actions

Anzio | Started on 15/06/2023 – Concluded on 15/12/2023

SeaPaCS is a six-months project intended to raise awareness about the consequences of marine pollution and temperature rise due to climate change on ocean biodiversity and to trigger transformative actions for sustainability-oriented behaviours in the small coastal city of Anzio (Rome). Direct pollution, notably by plastic and microplastics determines the emergence of new ecosystems on anthropic debris, called “plastisphere”. We document and discuss it by citizens sampling plastic on a sailing vessel (to reduce the carbon footprint) and by visually documenting emerging habitats on underwater plastic marine debris (performed by local divers and photographers) for an itinerant photo exhibit which has already started at ASLO2023 in Palma de Mallorca (Spain) and IGU2023 conferences in Milan.

Indirect pollution is intended as thermal pollution and temperature rise due to global warming. Plastic manufacturing contributes to global warming because the carbon footprint of plastics is about 4.5% of global CO2 emissions so the two types of pollution are tightly related. Thermal pollution will be documented through its impact on fish catches ,supported by videos and interviews to fishermen on the sea, particularly on edible species’ gain and loss through memory and perception of fast ecosystem changes.

The aim of the project is to engage and empower local communities in understanding these human and climate-related changes, and co-design intervention actions to value and support local livelihood and cultural heritage. SeaPaCS operates in a context where citizen groups are quite engaged with marine pollution; however, knowledge and results achieved up to now have been unsystematic and unrelated to scientific knowledge. The project offers the opportunity to create a solid network for making an impact on institutions; it is particularly timely, given the ongoing debate on creating a new touristic harbour in Anzio that is expected to worsen marine pollution problems.

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Editor’s Note: All information published as submitted by the author(s). Minor edits may have been made to increase readability and understanding.