The Scattered Islands, located in a remote area of the Indian Ocean, are home to an extraordinary environment, making them a reference ecosystem. They are an ideal observatory to provide insight into forthcoming major environmental changes, such as global warming or plastic pollution.
The MICMAC project is focused on assessing levels of plastic pollution in the Scattered Islands. It is funded as part of the inter-organisational research programme ‘Scattered Islands’ 2018-2020 run by Terres Australes et Antarctiques Françaises (TAAF). Led by the CNRS and carried out in partnership with Cedre, this project revolves around a month-long expedition aboard the Marion Dufresne which took place in April 2019. The operation will assess macro, micro and nanoplastic levels on and around the following Scattered Islands:
- Europa Island
- Juan de Nova Island
- Glorioso Islands
- Tromelin Island.
As part of the project, Cedre is tasked with sampling and analysing macro-litter (> 5 mm) and large microplastics (between 1 and 5 mm) found on the shoreline.
The protocols applied for this project will be those used in mainland France for the beach litter monitoring programmes, of which Cedre is in charge, under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).
The objective is to characterise the quantities and compositions of litter found on the islands’ coastlines as well as identifying their origins (deep sea or coastal) and source activities with respect to ocean currents. Additionally, any presence of macrofauna attached to the litter will be assessed in order to identify the potential presence of invasive species.
All sorting and identification of macro-litter during the operation will be done aboard the Marion Dufresne. Sediment samples taken on the islands for analysis of large microplastics will be brought back to Brest and analysed at Cedre in 2019.
The expedition was followed by 5 primary and secondary schools in France, to raise awareness of the problem of marine litter amongst schoolchildren. This took the form of regular discussion with the schoolchildren before, during and after the expedition via email, letters and visits during which their many questions were answered.