Examining the Impact of Microplastics, FPIK UB Collaborates with Various Countries

Faculty of Fisheries and Marine Sciences Universitas Brawijaya (FPIK-UB) hosted a workshop on the topic of Best Practices of Sampling and Analysis Methods for Microplastics. This activity was held for four days, Monday-Thursday (22-25/05/2023).

The first day of the workshop was attended by 30 selected participants, consisting of FPIK UB lecturers, undergraduate and postgraduate level students, and two inbound program students from Universiti Malaysia Terengganu/UMT).

This activity was opened by the Dean of FPIK-UB, Prof. Dr. Ir. Maftuch, M.Si. Guided by the Head of the Fisheries and Marine Resources Exploration Laboratory (ESPK) M. Arif As’adi, M.Sc., the workshop presented four speakers who explained the practice of laboratory sampling and analysis methods for microplastics in the aquatic environment and marine biota (fish and shellfish) based on good experience from NTU and UB team.

Dr. Nur Hazimah Binte Mohamed Nor (NTU) and Deanna Hwang Kai Wen represented the NTU team, while Defri Yona, S.Pi., M.Sc.stud., D.Sc. and Achmadika Avisina representing UB.

The workshop event was closed by the Vice Dean for Student Affairs, Alumni and Student Entrepreneurship Dr.Eng Abu Bakar Sambah, S.Pi., M.T.

On the first day, speakers from NTU and inbound program students from UMT had the opportunity to meet UB Rector, Prof. Widodo, S.Si., M.Sc., Ph.D.Med.Sc. The Rector welcomed this activity and discussed various opportunities for student exchange activities in the near future.

This activity is part of the Southeast Asia Plastic (SEAP) research collaboration. SEAP is one of four world research grant programs funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)-UK and the National Research Foundation (NRF)-Singapore for three years (2021-2023) and shifted until the end of 2024 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

One of the proposals funded is Sources, impacts and solutions for plastics in South-East Asia coastal environments. For this theme, there are eight institutions incorporated in it, including Stirling University (UK), National Oceanography Center (NOC-UK), Harriot-watt University (UK), Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus (Malaysia), Universitas Brawijaya (Indonesia), Nanyang Technological University (NTU-Singapore), Kasetsart University (Thailand), and University on Mons (Belgium).

According to Aida Sartimbul, Ph.D., the person in charge for Indonesia, this SEAP research collaboration has been legalized through an MoU (NERC Ref: NE/V009621/1 – NOC Ref: NE/V009591/1 – NTU Ref: REQ0178480) which was signed by the leadership all related institutions on September 1, 2021.

The purpose of this collaboration is to dismiss the issue of Indonesia as the 2nd largest source of plastic waste in the world (3.22 MMT/year) after China based on research by Jambeck et al. (2015) published in the Journal Science, by studying the sources, impacts, and solutions of plastics in Southeast Asia along the Indonesian Throughflow (ITF).

The ITF plays an important role in bringing water masses from the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean. In this study, there were five sampling points along the ITF which included Muncar Waters and Jakarta Bay (Indonesia), Singapore, Sarawak and Thailand.

The second and third days of this activity were field trips and microplastic sampling in Muncar Waters, Banyuwangi. In addition to the orientation of the study area for the NTU team, this activity is also the 6th sampling from the SEAP Indonesia team. This activity was limited to only seven core participants, including: Ir. Aida Sartimbul, M.Sc., Ph.D as the Chief Executive of this activity, Dr. Nur Hazimah Binte Mohamed Nor and Deanna Hwang Kai Wen (NTU), as well as UB team consisting of Victor Adi Winata, S.Kel (S2 student), Achmadika Avisinia (S1 student), and Nurmalisa Wirdana (MBKM student).

The final series of these activities was a guest lecture entitled Marine Pollution in climate change era and It’s Recent Studies which was held on May 25 2023. This activity was attended by 50 participants who were students from the subject of climate change and marine ecosystems, postgraduate students, and related lecturers. Interesting speakers and distribution of door prizes in the form of 4 books from RG MEXMA (Research Group Marine Resources Exploration and Management) added to the excitement of the guest lecture on the fourth day.

“UB students are smart, active, and responsive in attending lectures, so I am even more enthusiastic about sharing. Unlike most students in Singapore who are shy to ask questions, said Dr. Hazimah.

The Dean of FPIK UB said that this collaborative activity is very important to do, in order to deepen our knowledge, build collaboration and work together towards a future that is free from the threat of microplastics

“Hopefully this form of cooperation will be the start in solving the global microplastic problem that is happening. With this activity it is the first step for researchers to increase research on microplastics related to the risks and impacts of microplastics on living things and facilitate appropriate sampling methods and laboratory analysis,” said Prof. Maftuch.

Furthermore, Aida Sartimbul said that through research collaboration with many countries, in addition to providing opportunities for FPIK UB students and lecturers to carry out related research and use methods, equipment, and even laboratories both in Indonesia and in partner countries.

“Currently, around ten undergraduate and postgraduate students are involved in this research, and four undergraduate students have graduated and will soon be followed by two other students from undergraduate and postgraduate levels,” concluded Aida. [VAW/ASA/Humas UB/ Trans. Iir]