Blue Cradle and NRC hold workshops on the fight against microplastics and marine pests.

In June 2021, a team of scientists on board the S/V Manawanui stopped off in Marsden Cove, Whangārei. They participated in two workshops organised in collaboration with Northland Regional Council.

Attendees of the workshop held on Monday 21 June included representatives from local communities, hapū and iwi, central government and science research institutions.

The workshop included presentations by scientists involved in the cruise. They provided an overview of the purpose and background of the expedition. They then talked about microplastics and new early detection tools for marine biosecurity surveillance.

The attendees got the chance to test out different monitoring tools and discuss their knowledge from the morning.

“The workshop offered participants the chance to learn more about how plastics break down over time, how widely distributed they are in our oceans and the damaging impacts they can have on marine life.” Says Kathryn Lister, the council’s Marine Biosecurity Manager.

“Participants also learned about environmental DNA detection tools which can support better marine biosecurity outcomes by finding pests early before they become widely established and difficult to manage or eradicate.”

Participants discussed how we can put these monitoring capabilities into the hands of everyday citizens.

“It’s important to be able to empower people. If we give them the tools, they can help our ocean environments that are under pressure due to microplastics and the spread of marine pests,” says Kathryn.

There are all sorts of methods used to measure the effects of microplastics and to detect marine pests early,” she explains. “Solutions happen with top-notch equipment, knowledge and the desire to make a difference,” Kathryn says.

On Tuesday, 22 June 2021, several schools got onboard the S/V Manawanui. They participated in a hands-on educational experience. The workshop saw about 100 students learn about microplastics, marine biosecurity and our ocean environment.

The crew of the S/V Manawanui are on a 14-day expedition between Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland and Ōpua to shed light on how microplastic pollution impacts these environments and the eco-system-based industries they support.

The expedition collaborates with ocean nonprofit Blue Cradle Foundation, the Cawthron Institute, the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR), the University of Auckland, and Algalita South Pacific. It kickstarts Aotearoa’s participation in the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030).

Blue cradle workshops