Bycatch in fishing gear and marine pollution are the greatest threats to marine predators today. Among them, seabirds represent one of the most threatened groups as their populations have declined by 70% between 1950 and 2010.

Although the study of the impact of marine litter on marine species is becoming particularly relevant, no study has yet been carried out in the Cantabrian Sea on the incidence of plastics on seabirds and tuna.


The main objective of this project is to study and quantify the incidence of microplastics on predators in the Bay of Biscay. The specific objectives are:

  • Establish a coordinated monitoring network
  • Conduct the first quantification of microplastics in marine predators.
  • Develop specific indicators for the North Atlantic Demarcation within the Marine Strategies to facilitate the development of monitoring programmes (BM-Bio).

Project Innovation

The use of stomach contents of marine predators to study the incidence and quantification of microplastics in marine biota is addressed for the first time.

The use of seabird species that are abundant during some periods of the year in the North Atlantic Demarcation and whose carcasses (and stomachs) would be obtained naturally and commercially, respectively, will be explored.

Based on the results, questions on the effect of microplastics on predators could begin to be explore.

Activities to develop

Six main activities have been identified:

  1. Encourage coordination between Local Authorities for the establishment of a coordinated monitoring network.
  2. Conduct a literature review to develop a standard protocol to allow comparison of results between Member States within the scope of the Marine Strategies.
  3. Collection of seabird samples for laboratory analysis to obtain baseline biological parameters, stomach content screening, quantification of microplastics under magnification, prey identification, etc.
  4. Evaluation of the suitability of the species studied in order to propose them as indicator species for the development of BM-Bio monitoring programmes in the North Atlantic Demarcation.
  5. Dissemination actions in order to respond to three interest groups: Society, Administrations and the scientific community.

Fundación Biodiversidad, Ecoembes



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