Keynote Presentation

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Plastic pollution is not new, but the conservation implications of the exponential increase in plastic waste in the ocean are now widely acknowledged. Microplastics - those particles of synthetic plastics smaller than 5 mm - have attracted interest from the scientific community as well as the wider public. It seems as though everywhere we look, we find microplastics - in our oceans, in our air, in our wildlife and in our food and water. Macro-plastics are generally identifiable and therefore actionable in terms of mitigation. Microplastics, on the other hand, consist of myriad sizes, shapes, colors and polymer identifies, effectively holding us back from concrete actions. Emerging data is increasingly helping us to understand the complex source, transport and fate functions of plastics and microplastics into the environment, and this has the potential to galvanize best practices, policies and design changes to stem the release into the environment. The question is: are we too late? Maybe not - but we all need to take some important small steps now to work towards solutions to this problem.


He serves as Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria. He is a frequent advisor to conservation teams in different parts of the world, and has provided advice in support of chemical regulation, species at risk, ocean disposal and ocean health. He and his team launched PollutionTracker (, the first comprehensive monitoring program for pollutants of concern in coastal British Columbia; Ocean Watch (, a coast-wide ocean health report card; and the Plastics Lab, a dedicated high resolution facility working with industry, government agencies and academia on microplastic pollution sources, fate and effects. His work with microplastics has led to numerous invitations to advise industry, government, the G7 and the OECD.