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Workshop on “Consultation for Input into Documentation on Nano and Micro Plastics Issues in Costal Ghana”

14 March 2019

Prof. Kwasi Appeaning Addo, Director, IESS

The Institute for Environment and Sanitation Studies (IESS) with support from the Office of Research, Innovation and Development (ORID), University of Ghana held a workshop on the documentation of plastics issues in coastal Ghana. The one-day consultative meeting, held on March 12, 2019 at Tomreik Hotel aimed at soliciting input from key stakeholders into documentation on nano and micro-scale plastics targeting the seafood and the plastic industry in general. The meeting forms part of outlined activities of the ongoing Global Conservation Research Fund (GCRF) networking project dubbed ‘Nano and micro scale plastics within the marine and coastal environment of Ghana: the implication for global food safety and ecosystem functioning’. The workshop was attended by representatives from relevant State Institutions, International Development Partners, Regulatory bodies, Civil Society Organizations, Academia and Industry players along the plastics and marine resources value chain including the UNDP and non-governmental organisations such as the Plastics Federation, Volta Revival Foundation and Plastic Punch.

In his Welcome address, the Director of IESS, Prof. Kwasi Appeaning Addo emphasised the critical connection between plastic pollution and, environmental and human health arising from increased plastic use and poor management. He expressed gross concern about the impact of plastics on the marine environment and its implications for global food security. He further stressed that, IESS as a research Institute is always on the lookout for collaborative opportunities that provide answers to the environmental and sanitation challenges in the country and thus delighted to be associated with the project that is looking into micro- and nano-scale plastics in the coastal environment of Ghana.

Dr. Edem Mahu

A member of the project team Dr. Edem Mahu from the Marine and Fisheries Sciences Department of the University of Ghana stated that the project, which is a collaborative research between the University of Ghana and the University of Exeter started in 2018 with funding from the Global Conservation Resources Fund (GCRF).  Other key partners of the project include the Nigerian Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research (NIOMR), University of York and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). At the University of Ghana, researchers from the Marine and Fisheries Sciences Department and the Institute for Environment and Sanitation Studies (IESS) are analysing microplastics in seafood and sediments sampled from the coastal environment of Ghana.

Dr. Mahu further noted that plastics present a global challenge as they enter the food chain directly through the filtration activities of organisms thus, affecting marine biodiversity and ecosystem functioning with long term implications for human health and safety.

Thematic Group discussions during the breakout session

In defining a road map for solving the plastic menace in Ghana, the project is gathering baseline data on the presence of micro and nano plastics in the Ghanaian coastal and marine environment (sea food, sediment and water) to inform policy, create industry stakeholder linkages/networks for solutions, disseminate the knowledge gained from the project through innovative Citizen Science Engagement Platforms (Mobile App on Plastics) and draw a roadmap for future research in the field of plastics. The project also entails capacity building in plastics research by engaging a PhD and two undergraduate students. Two documents on plastics were developed at the workshop and would be made available to the public soon.

A group photograph of participants at the Workshop