Workshop: Best Practices of Sampling and Analysis Methods for Microplastics (MPs)

The Faculty of Fisheries and Marine Sciences, Universitas Brawijaya hosted a workshop with the topic Best Practices of Sampling and Analysis Methods for Microplastics which was held for 4 (four) days, starting 22 – 25 May 2023.

This activity is part of the Southeast Asia Plastic (SEAP) research collaboration. SEAP is one of 4 world research grant programs funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)-UK and the National Research Foundation (NRF)-Singapore for 3 years (2021-2023) and shifted to the end of 2024 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. One of the funded proposals is Sources, impacts and solutions for plastics in South-East Asia coastal environments. For this theme, there are 8 (eight) institutions that are members of it, including Stirling University (UK), National Oceanography Center (NOC-UK), Harriot-watt University (UK), Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus (Malaysia), Brawijaya University (Indonesia), Nanyang Technological University (NTU-Singapore), Kasetsart University (Thailand), and University on Mons (Belgium).

According to Aida Sartimbul, Ph.D., the person responsible 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 has been signed by the leadership all relevant institutions on September 1 2021. The aim of this collaboration is to dispel 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 Science Journal, by studying the sources, impacts and solutions of plastic in Southeast Asia along the Indonesian Throughflow (ITF) route. The ITF plays an important role in carrying water masses from the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean. In this study, there were 5 sampling points established along the ITF which included Muncar Waters and Jakarta Bay (Indonesia), Singapore, Sarawak and Thailand.

The first day of the workshop, May 22 2023, was attended by 30 selected participants consisting of lecturers from the Faculty of Fisheries and Marine Sciences, Brawijaya University (FPIK UB), undergraduate and postgraduate students as well as two inbound program students from Universiti Malaysia Terengganu/UMT). This activity was opened by the Dean of FPIK-UB, Prof. Dr. Ir. Maftuch, M.Sc. Guided by M. Arif As’adi, M.Sc. as Head of the Fisheries and Marine Resources Exploration Laboratory (ESPK), the workshop presented 4 (four) presenters who explained good practices in sampling methods and laboratory analysis for microplastics in the water environment and marine biota (fish and shellfish) based on the experience of both the NTU and UB teams. 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 Vice Dean III of FPIK UB, Dr.Eng Abu Bakar Sambah, S.Pi., M.T. On this first day, both 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. From this meeting, the Rector welcomed this activity and discussed various opportunities for student exchange activities in the near future.

Laboratory analysis for microplastics in the aquatic environment and marine biota

The second and third days of this activity (23-24 May 2023) consisted of a field trip and microplastic sampling in Muncar Waters, Banyuwangi. In addition to orientation to the study area for the NTU team, this activity was also the 6th sampling for the SEAP Indonesia team. This activity is limited to only 7 core participants, including: Ir. Aida Sartimbul, M.Sc., Ph.D as 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 (Master’s student), S.Kel, Achmadika Avisinia (S1 student), and Nurmalisa Wirdana (MBKM student).

The final series of activities was a guest lecture with the title 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 climate change and marine ecosystem courses, postgraduate students, and several related lecturers. Interesting speakers and the 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 about being he asked,” said Dr. Hazimah.

The Dean of the Faculty of Fisheries and Marine Sciences said that this collaboration activity is very important, so that we can deepen our knowledge, build collaboration and work

Microplastic sampling in Muncar Waters, Banyuwangi

together towards a future free from the threat of microplastics. It is hoped that this form of cooperation will be the beginning in solving the global microplastic problem that is occurring. This activity is the first step for researchers to increase research on microplastics regarding the risks and impacts of microplastics on living things and facilitate appropriate sampling methods and laboratory analysis. Aida Sartimbul further said that through research collaboration with many countries, besides 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 10 (ten) undergraduate and postgraduate students are involved in this research, and 4 (four) undergraduate students have graduated and will soon be followed by 2 (two) other students from undergraduate and postgraduate levels (VAW/ASA/ UB PR/ Trans. Iir).