Closing the Circle

Marine Debris, Sargassum and Marine Spatial Planning in the Eastern Caribbean

with the generous support of The Nippon Foundation

about the programme

'Human derived marine debris is by volume the greatest pollutant of the world's oceans' 

The World Maritime University WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute is pleased to implement with the generous support of The Nippon Foundation, The "Closing the Circle" Programme: Exploring challenges and advancing potential solutions to marine debris, sargassum threats and marine spatial planning (MSP) in Small Island Developing States with a particular focus on the Eastern Caribbean region. Read more and download the Programme Brochure here.

About the Programme

The Eastern Caribbean region is host to a number of small island developing states (SIDS) who heavily depend on the ecosystem services from the ocean for their social and economic development. A healthy ocean ecosystem is a prerequisite for two of the most important economic sectors sustaining these countries i.e. tourism and fisheries.

Human derived marine debris is by volume the greatest pollutant of the world's oceans. In the Caribbean, marine debris amounts triple the global average, according to a World Bank Report from 2019. Marine debris has adverse impacts on marine habitats and species, has potential human health implications and causes widespread social and economic problems. Plastic marine debris may persist 500 years or more creating an inter-generational problem of daunting scale that requires interdisciplinary approaches to be solved as well as implementation of new technological innovations. 

Additionally, the Eastern Caribbean region has recently faced a mounting problem from vast beach strandings of the normally oceanic seaweed Sargassum. The combination of marine debris and Sargassum seaweed has resulted in a wicked problem causing untold ecological impact and socioeconomic hardship for these SIDS that are highly dependent on tourism. Marine spatial planning (MSP) has emerged as a new approach to holistically plan and manage ocean space and resources. It moves away from the traditional sector based management of the ocean to an integrated approach that recognises multiple stakeholder needs as well as the impact of human activities on the marine ecosystem.

Some of the countries in the Eastern Caribbean have taken steps towards development of MSP by carrying out habitat mapping as well as stakeholder consultations. 

Focus and outline

Research Focus

Science & Technology

  • Research on sources and spatial distribution in the region 
  • Interaction with Sargassum 
  • Role of technological innovations and AI

Blue/Green Economic Responses

  • Social-economic impacts of marine litter 
  • Understanding of monetary value of ecosystem and biodiversity impacted by marine debris
  • Strengthen efforts to fight plastic litter from shipping

Societal Awareness

  • Role of ocean literacy and behavior
  • Role of awareness as key for change
  • Understanding the gender dimension of the problem
  • Inclusion, Involvement and Ownership

project Outline

4 PhD

Candidates, 1 Research Fellow

Distance Learning

Program

Onsite

Training

Stakeholder

Collaboration

The Team

Meet the Research Team

Kristal Ambrose

PhD Candidate

(Bahamas)

Area of Research
Developing Management strategies for marine debris in Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS) using predictive mapping.

Roxanne Graham

PhD Candidate
(Grenada)

Area of Research
Using cross-boundary transformative partnerships for knowledge transfer and to bridge the gap between science and policy in the field of marine debris.

Tricia Lovell

PhD Candidate
(Antigua & Barbuda)

Area of Research
Abandoned, Lost and Otherwise Discarded Fishing Gear (i.e. derelict fishing gear) Associated with small-scale fisheries in the Eastern Caribbean.  Understanding governance challenges and defining management approaches.

Kristie Alleyne

PhD Candidate

(Barbados)

Area of Research
Understanding and Addressing the Social-Ecological Challenges of Sargassum Influx Events Faced by Coastal Communities in the Eastern Caribbean.


Sarah Mahadeo

  Research Fellow
(Trinidad and Tobago)

Area of Research
Marine Spatial Planning in the Eastern Caribbean, including governance and institutional arrangements for national and regional transboundary planning.

Director, WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute

External Co-Supervisor, Dalhousie University

Associate Research Officer, Programme Principal Investigator, WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute

Project Engagement and Implementation Officer, WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute

Head of Research and Project Lead, WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute

Research Assicoate

Sustainable Fisheries Management, Ocean Biodiversity and Marine Spatial Planning, PhD Supervisor

DAAD Carlo Schmid Fellow (Intern)

Research Officer, WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute, PhD Co-Supervisor,


Director, WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute

Head of Research and Project Lead, WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute

Sustainable Fisheries Management, Ocean Biodiversity and Marine Spatial Planning, PhD Supervisor

External Co-Supervisor,
Marine Environmental Protection, Dalhousie University

Associate Research Officer, Programme Principal Investigator, WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute

Research Associate

Project Engagement And Implementation Officer, WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute

Contact Information

Find us here: Fiskehamnsgatan 1
Malmö

Email:  goisecretariat@wmu.se

Phone: +46 40 356 351