Particules plastiques dans l’estomac du fulmar en mer du Nord
D10 - Déchets marins
D10.1 - Caractéristiques des déchets présents dans l’environnement marin et côtier
D10.2 - Impacts des déchets sur la vie marine
Actuellement, l’estomac de 58% des fulmars échoués sur les plages de la mer du Nord contient plus de 0,1 g de plastique, dépassant l’objectif à long terme de 10% d’OSPAR. Ceci reflète l’abondance des déchets flottants dans leur environnement. On n’a relevé aucune modification notoire de la quantité de plastiques dans l’estomac du fulmar au cours des dix dernières années.
Les déchets sont très répandus dans le milieu marin et présentent un danger pour la faune et les écosystèmes. OSPAR a pour objectif de réduire considérablement les déchets marins dans la zone maritime OSPAR d’ici 2020 pour les ramener à des niveaux tels que leurs propriétés et leurs quantités ne sont pas préjudiciables pour le milieu marin. La quantité de plastiques ingérés par la faune marine reflète principalement l’abondance des déchets flottants dans son environnement.
OSPAR surveille et évalue les plastiques dans l’estomac du fulmar boréal, il s’agit d’un de ses indicateurs de la qualité environnementale. Le fulmar est un oiseau de mer qui abonde et est très répandu. On sait qu’il ingère régulièrement des déchets, l’estomac de presque tous les individus contient au moins du plastique. Le fulmar s’alimente près de la surface de l’eau, son estomac peut également contenir des objets provenant d’eaux plus profondes ou des objets qui peuvent être ingérés indirectement par l’intermédiaire de ses proies.
L’approche appliquée à l’évaluation du fulmar à titre d’indicateur se fonde sur un objectif de qualité écologique OSPAR (EcoQO) précèdent. Le programme de surveillance utilise le corps d’oiseaux échoués sur les plages ou d’individus tuées accidentellement. L’objectif à long terme d’OSPAR est que l’estomac de moins de 10% de fulmars ne contienne pas plus de 0,1 g de plastiques. Les méthodes et les résultats des recherches ont été publiés dans des rapports et de la documentation scientifique vérifiée par des pairs ainsi que des lignes directrices OSPAR spécifiques. Cet indicateur n’est utilisé actuellement que dans la mer du Nord au sens large. Il pourrait cependant s’appliquer au eaux Arctiques et aux mers Celtiques et a déjà été utilisé dans des études du fulmar en dehors de la zone maritime OSPAR, dans l’Atlantique Nord et le Pacifique Nord.
Many marine organisms, including seabirds, turtles, marine mammals, fish, crustaceans, shellfish and zooplankton ingest man-made debris that they encounter in their environment (Kühn et al., 2015). The quantity of litter ingested and found in animal stomachs or intestines, in particular that of persistent materials such as plastics reflects the abundance of marine litter, the associated harm to wildlife and the marine ecosystem, and socio-economic harm.
Within its system of Common Indicators, OSPAR agreed to the monitoring of plastic abundance in stomachs of seabirds as an indicator for levels and trends in marine litter floating at the surface of the North Sea. The indicator has been implemented through long-term monitoring of plastic abundance in stomach contents of the northern fulmar Fulmarus glacialis which has been developed and applied by OSPAR as an Ecological Quality Objective (EcoQO) for the North Sea (OSPAR, 2009, 2010a,b). The EcoQO approach has been used as the basis of the OSPAR Common Indicator Assessment for the Intermediate Assessment 2017.
The EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive 2008/56/EC (MSFD) refers to indicators related to litter in the water column (including floating at the surface) and to litter ingested by marine animals.
The OSPAR Common Indicator on plastic particles in fulmar stomachs has been presented as a monitoring approach in the MSFD (MSFD Descriptor 10 Indicator 2; EC 2008, 2010; Galgani et al., 2010), which is suitable for implementation in the Greater North Sea, Arctic Waters and Celtic Seas. The methodology for undertaking assessments of ingested plastic has also been used for other biota indicators for marine litter in other MSFD regions where no fulmars occur.
The purpose of monitoring plastic abundance in stomachs of fulmars is:
- to obtain a quantitative measure for spatial and temporal patterns in the abundance and composition of marine litter, in particular plastics, mainly floating at the surface
- to provide an indication of ecological harm caused by such litter.
Monitoring methods and results have been published in regular reports and peer-reviewed scientific literature (Van Franeker et al., 2011; Van Franeker and Law 2015). In 2015 OSPAR adopted Guidelines for Monitoring and Assessment of Plastic Particles in Stomachs of Fulmars in the North Sea Area (OSPAR Agreement 2015-03) to guarantee consistent monitoring methods and uniform submission of data by the relevant OSPAR Contracting Parties.
While plastic ingested by the fulmar was selected as an ‘ecological indicator’ for trends in marine litter by OSPAR (EcoQO 3.3; OSPAR, 2009) and as an indicator for ‘impact on biota’ in the MSFD (MSFD Indicator 10.2.1; EC, 2010), the results of fulmar monitoring have a broader additional significance:
- both size range and location of debris monitored by fulmars is complementary to macro-debris monitored on beaches (MSFD Indicator 10.1.1)
- fulmar ingestion has a focus on floating marine debris and addresses MSFD Indicator 10.1.2 (trends in litter in the water column)
- the size range of plastics ingested by fulmars could be used as a functional instrument for monitoring microplastics at the upper end of the their size scale (MSFD Indicator 10.1.3 trends in micro-particles)
Suitability of fulmars for monitoring marine litter
Fulmars are pelagic (open sea) seabirds that belong to the large group of the tubenoses (Procellariiformes) of which the albatrosses are the best known representatives. These birds forage exclusively at sea and never on land, and rarely forage close to shore. The fulmar is a poor diver, and thus feeds on what is available at or within a few metres of the water surface. Like most tubenosed seabirds, fulmars regularly ingest a variety of marine debris, probably mostly taken directly and intentionally because resembling prey, or unintentionally when mixed with attractive food wastes. But indirect ingestion, for example, through preying on fish with ingested plastics or scavenging on guts of other dead animals, will also occur. A preliminary survey suggests that approximately 90% of ingested plastic items (not threads or soft sheets) found in the first glandular stomach of fulmars is 10 mm or less in diameter, and over 50% is 5 mm or less (Bravo Rebolledo, 2011). Thus, litter ingested by fulmars is mostly in the micro (<5 mm) and meso (5–25 mm) size range. Unlike most gulls, fulmars do not normally regurgitate indigestible components of their diet, but gradually grind these in their muscular stomach (gizzard) until particles are worn or broken into sizes small enough to pass into the intestines and be excreted (which appears to happen at particle sizes of approximately 2–3 mm; Bravo Rebolledo, 2011). Fulmar stomach contents integrate litter abundance encountered during feeding over periods of days to weeks (Van Franeker and Law, 2015).
OSPAR’s Quality Status Report (QSR 2010) included an assessment of the North Sea EcoQO on plastic particles in seabird stomachs. The percentage of fulmars in the Greater North Sea with more than 0.1 g of plastic in the stomach ranged from 45% to over 60%. The English Channel area was the most heavily polluted area while the Scottish Islands were the ‘cleanest’ with a mean mass for plastics in fulmars of about a third of the level encountered in the English Channel. Data from the Faroe Islands (Arctic Waters) were included for comparison. The EcoQO was probably only achieved in Arctic populations. A long monitoring series from the Netherlands showed a significant reduction in plastic abundance from 1997 to 2006, mainly through a reduction in raw industrial plastics.
The Fulmar EcoQO methodology is also being used outside the OSPAR Maritime Area, in the North Atlantic and North Pacific areas (e.g. Provencher et al., 2009; Avery-Gomm et al., 2012; Kühn and Van Franeker, 2012; Bond et al., 2014; Trevail et al., 2015; Herzke et al., 2016) allowing wide spatial comparisons of marine litter distribution.
In the Dutch sector of the North Sea, changes in stomach contents of fulmars have been monitored since the 1980s. This monitoring provides contextual information that is valuable when interpreting OSPAR’s Indicator at the Greater North Sea scale. Although the overall abundance of plastics in the stomachs of fulmars from Dutch beaches has shown unexplained changes over time (Figure a.A), rapid reductions in abundance of industrial plastics within one to two decades (Figure a.B) have shown that fulmar stomach contents rapidly reflect changes in source-specific plastic abundances in their environment (Van Franeker et al., 2011; Van Franeker and Law, 2015), and are thus an effective way to assess the success of policy measures, reflecting the improved environmental quality for marine organisms and the pelagic marine environment.
At this point in time, OSPAR IA 2017 indicator assessment values are not necessarily to be considered as equivalent to proposed EU MSFD criteria threshold values, but can be used for the purposes of their MSFD obligations by those Contracting Parties that wish to do so.
Full details of methods are provided in the OSPAR Guidelines for Monitoring and Assessment of Plastic Particles in Stomachs of Fulmars in the North Sea Area (OSPAR Agreement 2014-03) and are repeated here only in a descriptive summary.
Corpses of dead beached birds or accidentally killed specimens are mostly collected by volunteer networks, but processed at experienced laboratories. At dissection, in addition to the date, the finding location is specified by a system of area codes and geographical coordinates for the area or more detailed location. Based on several internal and external anatomical characteristics, birds are classified as either adult or non-adult age group. The pilot study for fulmar monitoring (Van Franeker and Meijboom, 2002) showed that age is a relevant variable because younger birds generally have more plastics in the stomach than adults. Thus, in cases where samples to be compared have strongly different age compositions, analyses may need to be specified for separate age groups. Because age characteristics are gender specific, data recording includes sex, although there is currently no evidence for a relevant influence of gender on plastic abundance in stomachs.
Stomach contents are carefully rinsed in a sieve with a 1 mm mesh and then transferred to a petri dish for sorting under a binocular microscope. This size of mesh is used because smaller meshes become easily clogged with mucus from the stomach wall and with food remains. Analyses using smaller meshes were found to be extremely time consuming and particles smaller than 1 mm are very rare in the stomachs (Bravo Rebolledo, 2011) and thus contribute very little to numerical abundance of particles and even less to plastic mass.
Two types of plastic categories are distinguished in the OSPAR Common Indicator. Industrial plastic pellets are separated from consumer debris such as sheets, foams, threadlike materials, and hard fragments. For each of these categories the number of particles and mass (in grams and to the fourth decimal place) is recorded. The final assessment is based only on the total weight of plastics in stomachs, but industrial and consumer waste plastics have different sources and as such provide very useful information for interpreting the monitoring data.
Data collected in this way make it possible to determine:
- frequency of occurrence (’incidence’, the proportion of birds having plastic in the stomach)
- arithmetic average and standard error of the mean for number or mass of plastic
- geometric means (from transformed data to reduce impacts of data outliers)
- the indicator performance (i.e. the percentage of birds exceeding the threshold level of 0.1 g of ingested plastic as defined in the OSPAR long term goal)
The reference level for the presence of plastics in stomachs of northern fulmars (or any marine organism) is zero, because synthetic materials are solely man-made, and were only introduced into the marine environment in about the mid-1900s.
However, accepting that incidental losses are unavoidable, OSPAR (2008, 2009) has defined an (undated) long-term goal for the fulmar indicator in the North Sea as:
“There should be less than 10% of northern fulmars (Fulmarus glacialis) having more than 0.1 g plastic particles in the stomach in samples of 50 to 100 beach-washed fulmars from each of 4 to 5 areas of the North Sea over a period of at least five years”.
Therefore the basic monitoring information required is the total mass of plastic in individual stomachs, and the percentage of stomachs exceeding the 0.1g threshold level (referred to as ‘Indicator performance’).
The OSPAR Assessment for abundance of plastics in stomachs of northern fulmars is therefore calculated as the percentage of investigated birds exceeding the 0.1 g threshold level of plastics in the stomach over the most recent five-year period of available data.
In this assessment, the most recent five-year period is 2010–2014. It is important to emphasise that all data concerning average ingested debris or indicator performance are so called ‘population averages’, meaning that clean birds without any plastic in the stomachs are included in all calculations. Analyses in the pilot study by Van Franeker and Meijboom (2002) suggest that about 40 stomachs is the minimum sample size to obtain a reliable figure for plastic ingestion representative of a selected area and period of time. This recommendation should be taken into account when spatial aggregations of data are being made.
For the fulmar indicator, OSPAR has sub-divided the Greater North Sea into five sub-regions (Figure 3): Scottish Islands (Orkney and Shetland), East England (includes incidental data for eastern Scotland), English Channel, South-eastern North Sea (Belgium, Netherlands, Germany), and Skagerrak (Denmark, Norway, Sweden). Significant spatial differences occurred, with highest level of pollution in the English Channel area, gradually decreasing to more northern regions within the North Sea and beyond (Van Franeker et al., 2011; Van Franeker and Law, 2015). In some regions, such as the Swedish Kattegat, there are insufficient numbers of beach washed birds to undertake monitoring.
OSPAR has set the same long-term goal for all these North Sea areas, however the timeline for reaching this long-term goal is not specified, but is certainly relevant for policies under the EU MSFD in Descriptor 10 Indicator 2. Good Environmental Status (GES) must be achieved by 2020 (Commission Decision, 2010). However OSPAR has not yet identified regional or overall targets to be achieved by 2020. Power analyses of Dutch data in the pilot study by Van Franeker and Meijboom (2002) indicate that fulmar monitoring data may be expected to detect statistically significant trends (p<0.05) over periods of at least 4–8 years depending on the type of plastics considered: indeed, periods of significant change have been observed in early monitoring years for both consumer plastics and industrial plastics, especially the latter (Van Franeker et al., 2011; Van Franeker and Law, 2015). Trends in quantities of plastics ingested can be shown using either annual updates of the five-year running average in the mass of ingested plastic or for the indicator performance. In such graphs, each data point thus overlaps with four years of data from the previous data point. This ‘smoothes’ most ad hoc variability in the data and emphasises longer-term trends. However, these are only visual representations of the data and have no statistical meaning. As agreed by OSPAR and published in the scientific peer-reviewed literature, the method to statistically evaluate trends in plastic ingestion, use linear regression analysis of log transformed mass of plastics in individual birds against the year of sampling over a period of the most recent ten years.
For evaluating regional differences, plastic data were fitted in a negative binomial generalised linear model with region included as a factor, and the test statistic is a t-score based on residual variance for the region (Van Franeker et al., 2011). Data for the current analyses were stored in Oracle. Graphs were made up in Microsoft Excel and statistical analyses for time trends or regional differences were conducted in Genstat (18th Edition).
Evaluation de 2010-2014
Au cours de la période de cinq ans, de 2010 à 2014 inclus, l’objectif à long terme d’OSPAR concernant l’ingestion de déchets plastiques par des oiseaux de mer n’a été atteint nulle part dans la mer du Nord. L’estomac de 58% des 525 fulmars analysés au cours de cette période contenait plus de 0,1 g de plastique alors que l’objectif à long terme d’OSPAR est de parvenir à moins de 10%. L’estomac de 93% de tous les oiseaux analysés contenait des plastiques ingérés et la moyenne par oiseau était de 33 particules et de 0,31 g. Le fulmar de la Manche contenait la quantité la plus élevée de plastiques, des niveaux légèrement plus bas étant observés plus au nord. Au cours des cinq dernières années, on n’a relevé aucune augmentation ou réduction importante de la masse de plastiques ingérés dans l’ensemble de la mer du Nord ou dans l’une quelconque des sous-régions. La Figure 1 montre les différences sous-régionales pour la mer du Nord du point de vue du pourcentage d’oiseaux ayant ingéré plus de 0,1 g. (Cette évaluation utilise les limites antérieures entre la mer du Nord et les mers Celtiques mais elles seront actualisées dans la prochaine évaluation). Les niveaux d’ingestion des plastiques ne s’approchent de l’objectif à long terme d’OSPAR que dans l’extrême Nord-Ouest de l’Atlantique (Arctique canadien).
Tendances de 2005 à 2014
Les tendances sont évaluées par rapport à l’année de recueil au cours de la période de dix ans la plus récente, dans la présent évaluation de 2005 à 2014, inclus. la présente évaluation pour les cinq sous-régions (Figure 1) confirme que les niveaux sous-régionaux se sont maintenus dans l’ensemble depuis le début du recueil des données (Figure 2), les différences sous-régionales demeurant assez constantes et les niveaux étant visiblement élevés par rapport à ceux relevés dans les études accessoires plus au Nord de la zone maritime OSPAR.
La méthodologie et les données disponibles inspirent une confiance élevée.
Levels of ingested plastics in fulmar stomachs within the North Sea decrease from south (English Channel sub-region) to north. Levels of ingested plastics are lower further north towards the Faroe Islands, then north-western Iceland and finally north-east to North Norway and Svalbard (Figure b and Table a).
No significant increases or decreases in ingested plastic mass were observed in the North Sea as a whole or in any of the five sub-regions for the period considered in this assessment (2005–2014) (Figure 4, Table b). However, trends have been documented with longer datasets. In the Netherlands, plastic ingestion by fulmars increased from the 1980s to peak in the mid-1990s, this was followed by a decrease back to earlier levels (Figure a) and stability in the 2000s up to the current assessment.
Underlying this overall trend were patterns that strongly differed for industrial plastic pellets and for consumer plastics.
The rapid decrease in industrial plastic granules in the North Sea has not continued into the 2000s. No major changes have been observed in any of the North Sea sub-regions. Except for a near significant decrease along the Eastern English coast, changes in sub-regions have been statistically non-significant. Overall, 58% of fulmars currently have industrial plastics in their stomach, see table c, with an average of 3.1 pellets, equivalent to a mass of 0.07 g, per bird (based on a total of 525 birds), which is less than half the amount measured in the 1980s. This assessment shows consumer plastic debris in fulmar stomachs has been more or less stable since the early 2000s. Overall 93% of fulmar stomachs contain some consumer plastic, with an average of approximately 30 particles (0.24 g) per stomach. Figure c illustrates using five-year running averages, with sub-regional data for the 2010–2014 assessment shown in Table c. The results of the statistical analysis is shown in Table d, and illustrated for the total North Sea in Figure d.
There is high confidence in the fulmar method. This is based on a suite of peer-reviewed international publications on this method and its results, and on the long history of this indicator.
There is high confidence in data availability owing to the relatively long time series available and many data points per North Sea monitoring region. In the English Channel (one of the five subareas in the North Sea) data availability has become too low in recent years. However, for the overall assessment of the North Sea (using the EcoQO assessment value and trend analysis, respectively) this is not a problem, because the total number of data points for the full period (five years for the EcoQO assessment value and ten years for trend analysis) is still high.
Le niveau des plastiques ingérées par le fulmar en mer du Nord semble s’être stabilisé depuis le début des années 2000, environ 60% d’individus dépassant le niveau de 0,1 g spécifié par l’objectif à long terme d’OSPAR. On pourrait considérer que la stabilité de l’indicateur relevée est un facteur positif lorsque l’on se penche sur l’augmentation des activités marines et la proportion croissante de plastiques dans les déchets. L’objectif à long terme d’OSPAR est toujours valable à titre de niveau d’évaluation global même s’il est encore éloigné.
Les populations de fulmar en mer du Nord sont actuellement en déclin, comme l’indique l’évaluation de l’indicateur de l’abondance des oiseaux de mer, mais l’on n’en comprend pas très bien les causes. On reconnaît que l’ingestion des déchets plastiques présente une menace potentielle contribuant à l’état des populations de fulmar, étant donné qu’il est probable que les effets sublétaux de la condition physique et de la santé réduites affectent une proportion importante d’individus de la population.
Le Plan d’action régional OSPAR détermine les mesures de réduction des déchets marins et devrait donc permettre de réduire les quantités de déchets ingérés par le fulmar.
Responsiveness of the indicator
The average fulmar in the North Sea has around 30 plastic particles with a combined mass of about 0.3 g in the stomach. Fewer than one in ten fulmars has no plastic in the stomach at the time of death. About 20% of plastic mass is industrial plastic pellets, the remainder being consumer plastic waste. In the early 1980s that ratio was about fifty-fifty, which implies plastic composition has undergone a substantial change in the past few decades, even if total plastic mass in stomachs is currently similar to that in the 1980s. The early rapid changes in the mass of ingested plastic in different subcategories are important to emphasise, because this provides evidence that effective measures to reduce inputs of plastics to the marine environment have a rapid effect, not only near the source as evidenced by fulmars in the North Sea, but by implication also in the main oceanic gyres (Van Franeker and Law, 2015).
Losses of industrial plastic pellets to the marine environment were significantly reduced over a period of one to two decades, but this reduction was counteracted by increased inputs of consumer plastic waste. These important and rapid changes cannot be documented for the other sub-regions of the North Sea because data collection on plastics in fulmar stomachs only started after the period in which major changes occurred in the Dutch sector of the North Sea. However, the early Dutch data have been supported by very similar results in other seabird studies around the world (see Van Franeker and Law, 2015). The rapid reduction in industrial plastic granules was not only seen in source areas such as the North Sea, but was followed by similar reductions in densities of industrial plastic granules in the large oceanic gyres. Rapid reductions were probably achieved because the industrial pellets are raw feedstock with economic value. Considerable publicity in the 1970s and 1980s on losses of industrial pellets to the marine environment (Colton et al., 1974; Wong et al., 1974; Gregory, 1978; Shiber, 1979, 1982; Morris, 1980) and their ingestion by a wide range of marine wildlife (e.g. Bourne and Imber, 1982; Connors and Smith, 1982; Day et al., 1985) led to measures reducing losses around factories, processing plants and during transport. Although no published information on specific measures by industry or transport sectors is known from the 1980s, industrial concern was flagged in 1991 by the dedicated Operation Clean Sweep campaign (US EPA, 1993). Because of these early changes, it is important to continue to make a distinction in monitoring of industrial as opposed to consumer plastics, as they have provided evidence that rapid improvements in environmental quality are a realistic possibility if input of plastic debris is effectively reduced.
Validity of the OSPAR long term goal
The OSPAR long-term goal of no more than 10% of fulmars exceeding the 0.1 g threshold of plastic could be seen as a global background level because this level currently does exist in relatively clean Arctic marine environments such as the Canadian Arctic (Van Franeker et al., 2011; Kühn and Van Franeker, 2012, compiled from Mallory et al., 2006, Mallory, 2008 and Provencher et al., 2009 with additional information from the authors).
Harm to biota
The 0.1 g threshold in combination with a percentage of fulmars not allowed to exceed the threshold is not based on a quantitative assessment of harm to fulmars. Individual fulmars and other wildlife can die and suffer severely from the ingestion of plastic, but such effects are hard to quantify in terms of reductions in populations or species. Sub-lethal effects on many individuals may have population effects, even if they are difficult to quantify. Further research to document such sub-lethal effects is therefore warranted.
Descriptor 10 of the EU MSFD states that levels of marine litter should not cause harm to the marine and coastal environment. Harm to wildlife is a very complex concept, which in spite of dedicated research (Browne et al., 2015; Rochman et al., 2016) cannot be clearly defined. It can be interpreted that suffering or death of individual animals constitutes harm, while another interpretation is that ‘large numbers’ of individuals must suffer or die to constitute harm, or even that populations must be in serious decline before they can be said to be harmed, including firm evidence that it is specifically marine litter that is responsible for the decline.
Indicator species under the MSFD should not be in decline before the indicator highlights harm. Species are selected as indicators owing to their abundance, which usually means they are also not considered under threat species. Other more vulnerable and/or threatened species (i.e. those on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species) may become at risk of extinction due to marine litter even in a situation in which the indicator species such as northern fulmar is still abundant.
However, it is useful to note that despite two centuries of growth fulmar populations across Europe are currently stable or declining (Figure e). The OSPAR common indicator on marine bird abundance highlights that in the Greater North Sea and Celtic Seas, the relative annual fulmar population for 2015 is less than 80% of that in the baseline year (1992) and has strongly decreased (by more than 5%) in the last year. In Europe, the fulmar population is estimated to have declined by more than 40% since about the mid-1980s, and has been red-listed by BirdLife International as ‘Endangered’ based on standard IUCN Criteria. Within the EU, the fulmar population has the status ‘Threatened’. In most other, more distant areas, population trends are poorly known (Birdlife International, 2015). Conservation actions proposed in the BirdLife population assessment include: identification and protection of important sites at sea, as well as for prey species; continued monitoring of marine litter ingestion; and increased efforts for the removal of plastic from oceans (Birdlife International, 2015). Although firm evidence for the cause(s) of decline is impossible to obtain, ingestion of plastic debris is considered an ongoing threat to the fulmar population that needs to be addressed. In this respect, it is important to consider that the fulmar is a single indicator species and that to fully understand the impacts of plastic debris on the marine ecosystem further development of other indicator species is recommended.
Globally, it has been estimated that 80% of marine plastic debris originates from land (Faris and Hart, 1994). However, although huge masses of plastics are estimated to enter the sea from land-based sources (Jambeck et al., 2015) similar estimates for sea-based litter are lacking. In the North Sea, at least for macro-debris on beaches, sea-based activities (shipping, fisheries, aquaculture, offshore industry) are thought to be a major source (van Franeker, 2005; Fleet et al., 2009). Sources of smaller marine plastic debris in the North Sea are less clear. All (collective) measures in the OSPAR Regional Action Plan are expected to contribute to a reduction in floating litter and thus to a reduction in smaller debris ingested by fulmars.
Lacunes des connaissances
L’indicateur commun OSPAR des particules plastiques dans l’estomac du fulmar a pour objectif de refléter les déchets flottants en surface et le danger potentiel des déchets marins en mer du Nord pour les organismes marins pélagiques (haute mer). La surveillance du fulmar ne donne cependant pas des informations directes sur le « danger » et les « dégâts » mais quantifie simplement le profil spatial et temporel de l’abondance des plastiques dans l’estomac du fulmar à titre de mesure indirecte du danger. Il y a lieu de réaliser d’urgence des recherches spécialisées expérimentales en laboratoire portant sur les preuves du danger que présentent pour le fulmar des niveaux et types spécifiques de plastique, à titre d’exemple spécifique de danger afin de renforcer le rôle de cet indicateur commun OSPAR.
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