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REMEDIES 3-day Event in Oujda, Morocco: Uniting Forces Against Marine Plastic Litter Pollution

By December 11, 2023December 15th, 2023News

From Tuesday, November 28, to Thursday, November 30, Oujda, Morocco, witnessed a transformative three-day event at the University of Mohammed Premier 1. The gathering marked the 3rd General Assembly of the REMEDIES partners of the EU Mission: Restore our Ocean and Waters program, a collaborative initiative aimed at addressing the urgent issue of marine litter pollution. The event not only showcased the program’s achievements and upcoming milestones but also served as a platform for meaningful discussions and actions.

Day 1: 3rd General Assembly of REMEDIES program – A Tribute to Idriss Idrissi

The 3-day event commenced on November 28 with the 3rd General Assembly of the REMEDIES program. It was a solemn occasion dedicated to the memory of team member Idriss Idrissi, whose contributions to environmental causes were remembered with respect and gratitude. During the assembly, leaders of all work packages (WP) presented results and outlined the program’s future objectives.

Day 2: 1st REMEDIES Cluster Meeting & Monitoring workshop

Since plastic marine litter is a global issue affecting us all, collaboration is crucial and REMEDIES aims to build a movement by connecting key stakeholders. Among others organizing Cluster Meetings of local and international experts. Wednesday, November 29, marked the 1st REMEDIES Cluster Meeting, themed “Can we escape the tide of plastic marine litter pollution?”. The first one presented a sister project UPSTREAM, a vision of EU Mission: Restore our Ocean and Waters and EMODnet that is powering the marine data ecosystem. Under the Mediterranean lighthouse of EU Ocean Mission representatives from Moroccan Regional Environmental Council.

This hybrid event featured distinguished speakers who delved into the challenges and potential solutions to this critical issue. The day opened with welcome speeches from Yassine Zarhloule (Rector of the Université Mohammed Premier 1), Uroš Novak (Coordinator of the REMEDIES project), and Alae-Eddine Barkaoui (Université Mohammed Premier 1 REMEDIES demo site leader in Morocco). Then, keynote speakers included: Claudia Pecoraro (Policy and Communication Officer at DG Research/Healthy Planet Directorate), Francesco Misural (EMODnet, ETT S.p.A), and Konstantinos N. Topouzelis (UPSTREAM project, University of Aegean).

The day concluded with a thought-provoking round table discussion featuring panelists from diverse backgrounds, such as Ghizlane Benzekri (Chef de service de l’Observatoire Régional du Développement Durabl, Morocco), Najib Bachiri (CEO of “homme et environnement,” Morocco), Antonios Eleftheriou (Marine Conservation Greece, Greece), Maria Rapti (All for blue, Greece), Marko Petelin (Infordata Sistemi, Italy), and Katrin Schuhen (Wasser 3.0, Germany). 

The event’s detailed agenda and recording can be accessed for further insights.

After the REMEDIES Cluster event REMEDIES partners focused on monitoring both beach and seafloor litter, crucial for our plan to repurpose the collected items. Understanding the types of polymers in the litter is key, which is why we started with a discussion on using handheld NIR devices. REMEDIES partners are committed to regular marine litter monitoring on beaches, seafloors, and rivers. We held our third workshop on beach litter monitoring in Morocco. Here, we introduced enhancements to our new app and outlined a protocol for effective beach litter monitoring. This includes collecting data and reporting to EMODnet. We’re excited to share that in Cyclades, Greece, and Sardinia, Italy, our partners will undertake seafloor litter monitoring, guided by the PADI Aware Foundation’s Dive Against Debris survey. We had the pleasure of connecting online with Ms. Emily Deery, a PADI AWARE representative, who shared insights on visual seafloor litter surveys through scuba diving and helped shape our upcoming activities.
In a separate session, we explored ‘Fishing For Litter’, with Mr. Michael Mannart from KIMO the Netherlands & Belgium. He provided a video presentation on monitoring seafloor litter in Cyclades, Greece, and Porquerolles, France, as part of this initiative. We wrapped up the day looking forward to seeing how beach litter monitoring will unfold in Morocco, which will be the focus of the next day’s session. Discover more about the Monitoring Workshop and the Monitoring Campaing in Morocco here.

Day 3: Action Day – Beach Clean-Up & Monitoring Campaign

The final day, Thursday, November 30, was dedicated to action. Participants engaged in a Beach Clean-up, led by the Demo Site leader University of Mohammed Premier 1, with the support of the University of Maribor, and Monitoring activities, led by Vito and supported by Infordata, that were taking place simultaneously. Both REMEDIES partners as well as the local community in Saïdia, Morocco, demonstrated their commitment to making a tangible impact on the marine litter problem. This hands-on approach not only contributed to local environmental preservation but also symbolized the collective power of global collaboration in the face of a shared challenge. The team of volunteers and scientists, managed to collect 363 kg of litter, 160 kg of which was plastic litter. The event gave also chance for site testing the aerial drone technology led by the University of Mohammed Premier 1. Discover more about the Beach Clean up here, and learn more about the Monitoring Campaing here.

The REMEDIES event in Oujda, Morocco, transcended traditional conferences by combining knowledge-sharing sessions, expert insights, and practical actions. It brought together a diverse group of stakeholders united by a common goal: mitigating marine litter pollution. As the program continues to progress, events like these serve as beacons of hope, reminding us that through collaboration and concerted efforts, we can work towards a healthier planet for future generations.