AUSMAP wins 2021 AUSTRALIAN MUSEUM EUREKA PRIZE
The Australian Microplastic Assessment Project (AUSMAP), a citizen science project that is tracking plastic pollution along Australia’s coast and waterways, has won the 2021 Australian Museum Eureka Prize for Innovation in Citizen Science.
AUSMAP, an Australia-based project by the Total Environment Centre in collaboration with Macquarie University, utilises citizen science to tackle the global problem of microplastics. Whether it is in our own homes and bodies or in the remote corners of the world, microplastics have been found almost everywhere. With countless microplastics found in the waterways around the world, AUSMAP sets out to map the presence of microplastic pollution along Australia’s coast and waterways with the help of scientifically trained citizen scientists.
Over the past three years, AUSMAP has developed and implemented an entire ‘source to solution pathway’, from identifying microplastic hotspots to finding effective solutions. In this process, over 700 citizen scientists have removed well over 3 million pieces from Australian shorelines and identified numerous hotspots. AUSMAP Program Director, Dr Michelle Blewitt from the Total Environment Centre (TEC) says that "The impressive contribution from citizen scientists, that have stopped millions of microplastics from reaching the waterways, is only the beginning as we are discovering more microplastic hotspots on a monthly basis.”
Dr Scott Wilson from Macquarie University and Research Director of AUSMAP highlights the need for AUSMAPs solutions to mitigate the effects of microplastic pollution around the country, from education, leading to behavioural change, to effective microplastic traps. He says, “This is the first time anyone has attempted a multi-faceted management approach to micro-litter while empowering citizen scientists to have a significant impact in generating sustainable environmental solutions”.
Jeff Angel, Director of the Total Environment Centre which established AUSMAP said, ‘’Plastic pollution is one of the most critical environmental issues of our time. Each year, more and more plastic is contaminating the marine and human food chain, lasting many, many decades. Shining a light on it; engaging the community; and working on solutions with government and business is essential.’’
The Australian Museum Eureka Prizes are Australia’s most comprehensive national science awards, honouring achievements across the areas of research and innovation, leadership, science engagement, and school science. The category ‘Innovation in Citizen Science' award demonstrates excellence in citizen science practice, through innovative research and community engagement projects.
If you would like more information about the program, head to their website.
If you would like to reach out to AUSMAP for an interview, email the team at info (at) ausmap.org.
If you would like to join the AUSMAP citizen science program, head here!
If you would like to donate to the AUSMAP program, head here.