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Marine Plastics Research Project and Promotion of Ocean Literacy in Collaboration with “2019-2020 Japan-Palau Marine Plastics Research Project and Promotion of Ocean Literacy in Collaboration with “2019-2020 Japan-Palau

Marine plastic pollution is widely recognized as one of the most serious global environmental problems that human society is currently facing. With great concern on its impacts on marine ecosystems, human health and local, regional and global economy, numbers of countries have set or are setting legislations and strategic milestones to reduce plastic wastes. At the 2019 Osaka Summit, the G20 countries released the Osaka Blue Ocean Vision to pledge actions toward the protection of ocean health, that accelerates the further commitments of government, industry and academia working together.
Whilst we now know plastics are distributed worldwide, little is known on the process of its transportation and accumulation in the open sea. Data of microplastic are particularly scares despite of its potential threats to marine environments. Because it is difficult to fill the knowledge gap of marine plastics within the capacity of conventional ocean observing by research institutes, engagement of Ship of Opportunities (e.g. commercial tankers and ferry boats) and Citizen Science (e.g. using leisure boats and marine sports activities) to ocean observing is being much expected.

2019-2020 Japan-Palau Goodwill Yacht Race

To promote Citizen Science and ocean literacy in marine plastic researches, JAMSTEC is launching the collaborative research project with Japan-Palau Goodwill Yacht Race, which will take place for December 2019 - January 2020, celebrating the 25th independence Anniversary of Republic of Palau.


January 16, 2020

Japan-Palau Goodwill Yacht Race Awards Ceremony was held in Palau

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Japan-Palau Goodwill Yacht Race Awards Ceremony was held in Palau on January 15th. Dr. Sakaguchi rushed from JAMSTEC and presented letters of appreciation to TREKKEE, who conducted a microplastic survey while participating in the yacht race, and to MIRAIE, who conducted the microplastic survey & marine literacy program. Three leaders also reported on the microplastic survey at MIRAIE to participants such as the President of Palau, the Palau Ambassador to Japan, and the Japanese Ambassador to Palau.

The three leaders who landed yesterday also seem to be a bit relaxed today. After the closing ceremony, it was impressive that the children who traveled together for two weeks did not want to part with the three leaders and did not want to say goodbye.

The latest cruise information is distributed on Twitter

December 29, 2019

Start of the Japan-Palau Goodwill Yacht Race!

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At 1:00 PM, the sailing ship MIRAIE, with her team researching marine plastics aboard, left Yokohama Port escorting the race yacht TREKKEE. On board is the research team, consisting of three women from different organizations: JAMSTEC Senior Scientist Sanae Chiba, Holly Griffin of UNEP-WCMC and Yurie Seki of Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. In addition, six Palauan children also are aboard the MIRAIE and are conducting the research together during their approximately two-week sea journey.
In addition, for the period of the race, the TREKKEE also has been equipped with a microplastic sampler so as to conduct sampling survey.

December 27, 2019

Children Visiting JAMSTEC Before Boarding MIRAIE

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On December 27th, six Palauan children and their families visited JAMSTEC. On the 28th, in Hakkeijima, Yokohama City, they participated in a race with small yachts called “Optimists,” and are very excited about the Japan-Palau Goodwill Yacht Race this year. With the research team on the MIRAIE, they are watching over the race. While sailing, in addition to investigating marine plastics with the research team, they are going to participate in an oceanic education program.
On this day, at the JAMSTEC Yokosuka Headquarters, in addition to attending a lecture regarding the investigation on marine plastics, they also visited the anchored research ship and exhibition facilities.

December 27, 2019

Start of Preparations for the Marine Plastics Research Project !

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On the MIRAIE, anchored at the JAMSTEC Yokosuka Headquarters, preparations for the Marine Plastics Research Project have begun. The leader of the research team is Dr. Sanae Chiba, Ph.D. (Fisheries Science), whose research focuses on marine plastics. The race takes place for approximately 2 weeks around the turn of the year, and as they are out in the open water this time, there are countless things to do on land in preparation. Each day is packed with tasks in preparation for the start of the race on the 29th, beginning with the preparation of research equipment and research team meetings.

Microplastic Sampler

December 24, 2019

Sailing Ship MIRAIE Making a Port Call at JAMSTEC

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On the 24th, ahead of the weekend of the race, the MIRAIE, fresh after repairs, made a port call at the JAMSTEC Yokosuka Headquarters. Finally, full-scale preparations for the Microplastic Research Project have begun.

December 25, 2019

Executive Director Dr. Hide Sakaguchi Spoke at the International Symposium Commemorating the 25th Anniversary of Japan–Palau Diplomatic Relations: “Achieving a Sustainable Ocean – Palau’s Initiatives and International Partnership.”

Project Outline

The participant ships of the race will cruise over 3000km from Yokohama, Japan to Palau, which route goes close to the region that scientists predict one of the great garbage patches in the world ocean yet still under-observed. We will equip a microplastic sampler on a race yacht and a race escort ship to conduct ship underway sampling of microplastics of 3 different sizes (30, 100 and 500 ㎛).
On the escort ship, JAMSTEC researchers will conduct additional microplastic sampling using a plankton net. To promote ocean literacy, we plan to have a series of educational programs on board, e.g. science talk and demonstration of sampling, to children and family of Palau who will travel from Japan to Palau on the ship. The project outcome will be presented at the award ceremony in Palau after the race, and the official scientific report will be ready in the following year.
This project will be carried out in collaboration with the organizers of the Japan Palau Goodwill Yacht Race and with support of private sectors (information to be updated), who are keen to contribute to solution of marine plastics pollution.

Science Project Team Women in Ocean Science

Sanae Chiba (Left)
Marine Plastics Research Group (M-Plastics), Marine Biodiversity and Environmental Assessment Research Center (BioEnv), Research Institute for Global Change (RIGC), JAMSTEC

Holly Griffin (Center)
UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre

Yurie Seki (Right)
Yamaha Motor CO., LTD.

Message from Science Project Leader

Since the United Nations first ever Ocean Science was held in 2017, the momentum toward conservation of ocean environment and marine ecosystem health has been expanding worldwide. Expectation of society toward the role of ocean science and responsibility of scientists to sustain ocean benefits to human for future generations are growing larger.
Ocean scientists are planning to establish international network to collaboratively collect and share scientific knowledges useful for policy making and society, and marine plastic observation are not the exception. To establish the observation network to cover global ocean, engagement of Ship of Opportunity and Citizen Science to the network is indispensable.
We hope the accomplishment of this project will encourage more commercial ships and citizens to participate in ocean observing, network each other and contribute to the production of high-quality scientific data to fill the current knowledge gaps. Through the research outcome and literacy programs, we also hope that citizen of Japan and Palau become more interested in not only on marine plastic pollution but also other ocean environmental problems to solve, e.g. warming, acidification and biodiversity loss.
Whilst marine plastic pollution is serious without doubt, we are still on time to fight back if global community with various expertise from multiple sectors work together.
Sanae Chiba (JAMSTEC)

Partner Organization