Columbia Shipmanagement has joined forces with the Cyprus-based AKTI Project and Research Centre to support research into the detection and analysis of coastal microplastics in waters off the coast of Cyprus.
The three-year research project, which is the first of its kind in Cyprus, instantly triggered CSM’s attention as it fits perfectly into its sustainability strategy and goals to protect marine biodiversity and conserve the marine environment.
Microplastics are found everywhere, in the food we eat, the water we drink and according to latest scientific research, are present even in human lungs. As a result, efforts to minimise their negative effect on the environment and our health are being intensified.
This research project aims to highlight the detrimental effects of microplastics to the marine environment. It includes sampling at 10 beaches in Cyprus – five popular and five remote during both the summer and winter months and laboratory analysis will be done at the Department of Civil Engineering lab of the University of Cyprus carried out.
The baseline year will be 2022 and based on the results of the first year, the four most microplastic-polluted beaches will be identified. They will then receive more detailed monitoring, sampling and analysis, in the following two years on the abundancy, and type, of microplastics. The research project will create the first data series of systematic microplastics monitoring in Cyprus.
This field work will provide valuable data to guide the policies against plastic pollution, since it will give the first indication in the eastern Mediterranean of microplastics concentration on beaches. AKTI plans to engage interns, university science students, citizens and volunteers to help with the project.
Mark O’Neil, CEO and President of CSM, said: “A strategic and long-term focus on local community engagement provides a unique opportunity to CSM as it helps us rediscover our role in the societies in which we operate. Only by opening a communication channel can we understand the real needs, priorities and challenges that civil society and our people or partners face and only then can we really help. By offering solutions that meet these needs.”
Addressing an online event dedicated to sustainability, Mr O’Neil added: “We are truly proud of our partnership with AKTI and supporting the valuable work that they are doing. Sharing similar values and having common goals are essential ingredients to any successful partnership and as you know CSM is powered by partnerships.”
Ms Xenia Loizidou, AKTI Chairwoman, stressed: “We only have One Earth, and this earth, the seas and the oceans are packed with microplastics. It is of utmost importance to develop synergies and then actions, to combat plastic pollution and improve the management of plastic when it becomes waste. Field work and systematic monitoring are needed to base the action plans on scientific data, so as to be effective and efficient. This is a strategic goal for AKTI and this cooperation with CSM serves this goal.”
AKTI is a non-governmental, not for profit organisation based in Nicosia, Cyprus. It was established in 2000 by a group of experts in environmental issues and has succeeded today to create an extensive network of collaborators and volunteers for raising environmental awareness and promoting sustainable development.