Priorities to inform research on marine plastic pollution in Southeast Asia



Omeyer LCM, Duncan EM, Aiemsomboon K, Beaumont N, Bureekul S, Cao B, Carrasco LR, Chavanich S, Clark JR, Cordova MR, Couceiro F, Lee C, Matallana-Surget S, Messer LF & Quilliam R (2022) Priorities to inform research on marine plastic pollution in Southeast Asia. Science of The Total Environment, 841, Art. No.: 156704.

Southeast Asia is considered to have some of the highest levels of marine plastic pollution in the world. It is therefore vitally important to increase our understanding of the impacts and risks of plastic pollution to marine ecosystems and the essential services they provide to support the development of mitigation measures in the region. An interdisciplinary, international network of experts (Australia, Indonesia, Ireland, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and Vietnam) set a research agenda for marine plastic pollution in the region, synthesizing current knowledge and highlighting areas for further research in Southeast Asia. Using an inductive method, 21 research questions emerged under five non-predefined key themes, grouping them according to which: (1) characterise marine plastic pollution in Southeast Asia; (2) explore its movement and fate across the region; (3) describe the biological and chemical modifications marine plastic pollution undergoes; (4) detail its environmental, social, and economic impacts; and, finally, (5) target regional policies and possible solutions. Questions relating to these research priority areas highlight the importance of better understanding the fate of marine plastic pollution, its degradation, and the impacts and risks it can generate across communities and different ecosystem services. Knowledge of these aspects will help support actions which currently suffer from transboundary problems, lack of responsibility, and inaction to tackle the issue from its point source in the region. Being profoundly affected by marine plastic pollution, Southeast Asian countries provide an opportunity to test the effectiveness of innovative and socially inclusive changes in marine plastic governance, as well as both high and low-tech solutions, which can offer insights and actionable models to the rest of the world.

Environmental governance; Marine debris; Marine ecosystems; Marine litter; Plastic debris; Waste management

Additional co-authors: Simon M. Cragg, Neil Dickson, Pierre Failler, Gianluca Ferraro, Stephen Fletcher, Jenny Fong, Alex T. Ford, Tony Gutierrez, Fauziah Shahul Hamid, Jan G. Hiddink, Pham T. Hoa, Sophie I. Holland, Lowenna Jones, Nia H. Jones, Heather Koldewey, Federico M. Lauro, Matt Lewis, Danny Marks, Claudia G. Mayorga-Adame, John McGeehan, Laura Michie, Michelle A. Miller, Zeeda F. Mohamad, Nur Hazimah Mohamed Nor, Moritz Müller, Simon P. Neill, Sarah E. Nelms, Deo Florence L. Onda, Joyce J.L. Ong, Agamuthu Pariatamby, Sui C. Phang, Peter E. Robins, Maria Salta, Aida Sartimbul, Shiori Shakuto, Martin W. Skov, Evelyn B. Taboada, Peter A. Todd, Tai Chong Toh, Suresh Valiyaveettil, Voranop Viyakarn, Passorn Wonnapinij, Louisa E. Wood, Clara L.X. Yong, Brendan J. Godley

Science of The Total Environment: Volume 841

FundersNERC Natural Environment Research Council
Publication date01/10/2022
Publication date online17/06/2022
Date accepted by journal10/06/2022
PublisherElsevier BV

People (3)


Dr Sabine Matallana-Surget

Dr Sabine Matallana-Surget

Associate Professor, Biological and Environmental Sciences

Dr Lauren Messer

Dr Lauren Messer

Post Doctoral Research Fellow, Biological and Environmental Sciences

Professor Richard Quilliam

Professor Richard Quilliam

Professor, Biological and Environmental Sciences

Projects (1)