Workshop to update the SACs Management Plans of La Palma

Last 9th of May we participated in one of the workshops organized by the Ministry for the Ecological Transition, through the Department of Sustainability of the coast and the sea, that will serve to update the management plans of the 24 Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) of the Canary Islands.

We attended the workshop held in La Palma with the aim of working collectively contributing to the current situation of the ZECs Fuencaliente and Costa de Garafía. There, the most relevant impacts were put on the table in both areas, highlighting the most vulnerable spots and activities that require more attention when it comes to materialize the measures and regulations in the management plans.

Taller ZEC Garafía y Fuencaliente
Workshop held in La Palma to update the management plans for the SACs of Fuencaliente and Garafía.

More than a decade ago, the research group on Technologies, management and environmental biogeochemistry had participated, through the MARMAC project, in the study of the SAC of Fuencaliente, drawing the environmental values of the area, conducting an analysis SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) and proposing a series of measures to help their conservation.

On this occasion, we could see that many of the proposed measures are still of interest to the area, such as the regulation of nautical activities, especially those that endanger the integrity of the caves in the area, one of the Community Interest Habitats for which the area is protected at European level.

Figure extracted from the Ministry resources for the Fuencaliente SAC, depicting the main activities and uses of the area, and the main pressures and threats (Source: MITECO).

On the other hand, bottlenose dolphins and loggerhead turtles are also species of Community Interest for which prevention measures were proposed regarding possible damage caused by collisions and interaction with marine debris, among others. The impacts of the aquaculture activity (mainly escapes), the presence of uncontrolled discharges or spills and marine debris, were some of the impacts reinforced in the working session.

The participation in this workshop has served the research group to achieve its tasks in the EcoTour project, which works for the proposal of conservation measures in coastal areas of high natural value, as is the case of Las Marciegas (La Aldea, Gran Canaria), and other selected areas in the Macaronesian Region.

We repeat the calibration trials for the microplastic sampler onboard R/V Ángeles Alvariño

On the first days of december we repeated the microplastic sampler calibration test onboard the oceanographic vessel Ángeles Alvariño of the Spanish Institute of Oceanography. We had the chance to go together with the colleagues from the Oceanic Platform of the Canary Islands (PLOCAN) in its biannual oceanographic campaign to the Station of Temporary Oceanic Series of the Canary Islands (ESTOC).

This collaboration allowed us once again to test the improvements of the microplastic sampling device for opportunity vessels that we are developing. Thus, one of the fundamental tests consisted of the repetition of the calibration, ensuring, among other parameters, what is the minimum sampling time and volume required for a validated performance.

The sampling prototype, which can be operated at the time that the oceanographic vessel navigates without interfering with its course or speed, was launched both on the routes from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to ESTOC (and back), and at several stations (at the oceanic point in ESTOC and three stations at the PLOCAN Test Site, near the coast).

The procedures followed were the same as in the previous campaign, in march of this year, so that we are expecting to get results of the comparison among the two calibration trials in order to analyze the propotipe performance.

We were on the International Conference MICRO2018: Fate and Impacts of microplastics

The second edition of the International Conference on Microplastics (MICRO2018) was held in Lanzarote last week. This biannual meeting was born from a collaborative process coordinated by the scientific community with the aim of connecting with society with the problem of microplastics as a vehicle.

MICRO 2018

Five intense days of morning and afternoon agenda gave way to around 300 oral communications and more than 160 posters that described the undeniable ubiquity of microplastics in the environment, either in water, land or air, and from the chemistry, biology or physics perspective.

No less important in this matter, citizen science, social initiatives catalyzed by various non-profit organizations, as well as the world of art and effective (and fun!) communication had their place in the Conference.

MICRO 2018

Concerning our research group, we took the opportunity to present our work and seek for alliances, with the aim of installing the microplastic sampler on board of opportunity boats and contributing in this way to the improvement in the monitoring of contamination by microplastics required in the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

MICRO 2018