The MICRO project is studying the amount and impact of microplastics in the North Sea, the English Channel and the France-Manche area. Transport models have been developed for predicting hotspots in marine waters and sediment. Tests have also been conducted with mussels, oysters, sea snails, shrimps and other marine organisms to see how microplastics in high concentrations affect them. In addition, there have been studies of the possible socio-economic effects of microplastics, for example on aquaculture and bathing water quality.
These components of the research were managed by ILVO (BE) in collaboration with Ifremer (FR), CNRS (FR) and Cefas (UK).
High concentrations of microplastics have been found in the coastal zone in particular. The sampling of plastics in the environment has resulted in the identification of possible pathogenic bacteria. High concentrations of microplastics did indeed have an effect on the reproduction of oysters and microplastics were found in all sampled organisms. If we state this as the potential impact on the food chain and the economic sectors that depend on it, microplastics have a negative effect. On the basis of these findings, suggestions have also been made for measures in the area under consideration to limit the impact of microplastics.