Draft version; italian version will follow.
Versione provvisoria; seguirà pubblicazione in lingua italiana.

Siena, 7\10 marzo 2019

Service Ocean Rescure – Plastic Buster

Strade Bianche Granfondo Crowdfunding

Impact of Marine litter on Italian fisheries and potential consequences on human health

Project coordinator: Prof. M. Cristina Fossi

Research group members: Cristina Panti, Matteo Baini, Silvia Casini, Matteo Galli, Dario Giani
Dipartimento di Scienze Fisiche, della Terra e dell’Ambiente, Università di Siena

1. State of art
Marine litter is one of the environmental issue raising most concern worldwide. In the Mediterranean Sea the effects of Marine litter on marine organisms and the possible consequences on the trophic chains have been little investigated compared to other marine ecosystems (eg Pacific Ocean), although recent data show that the Mediterranean is one of the most exposed seas to this emerging threat (UNEP/MAP, 2015). Several studies have shown that plastics represent 60-80% of marine litter (Misfud et al., 2013).
The effects of plastic debris, and in particular microplastics (plastic fragments smaller than 5 mm), on the marine edible species, in the commercial fisheries, as well as on human health, are still largely unknown and represent an important issue to be explored in the Mediterranean area.
In a study carried out by Rochman et al (2015) in the United States, anthropogenic debris (essentially microplastic) were found in 25% of edible fish species and in 67% of all species examined. Furthermore, the presence of microplastics has been reported in 33% of the sampled mussel species. A similar research carried out in Belgium (Van Cauwenberghe, 2014) reveals that the edible mussel species M. edulis contained on average 0.36 ± 0.07 g-1 of microplastics (wet weight). As a result, in this research, the annual exposure for shellfish consumers at European level has been estimated of around 11,000 microplastics annually.

This project represents an important step to increase the available knowledge about the impact of marine litter, in particular microplastics, on Mediterranean fish species, the related impact on fisheries, the consequences on edible and commercial species and the possible consequences on human health.

2. Project overview

The specific activities proposed by University of Siena (UNISI) within the project are:

• Monitoring and characterization of micro and macro-plastics on the surface and in the water column in the study area (the pilot areas will be identified in the North Tyrrhenian Sea and other areas of comparison). This survey will make it possible to identify the different types and sources of anthropogenic contamination in order to guide future mitigation actions.
• Determination of the presence of macro – meso and micro – plastics in fish species, crustaceans and mussels for human consumption in different study areas. The activities will be carried out in collaboration with local fisheries.
• Evaluation of the effects of plastic debris in the different edible species, previously identified as the most exposed to the marine litter contamination. In these species will be evaluated both the levels of plastics additives and the biomarkers responses to identify possible negative effects on fish stocks.

3. Student training

The project will be carried out by a young researcher within his/her PhD program. The PhD student will collaborate in the planning and implementation of the sampling and subsequent laboratory analysis of the analyzed species, which is fundamental for the achievement of the project objectives. During the period of the project, the student will have the opportunity to increase the skills on the sampling and laboratory procedure related to the detection of marine litter and microplastics and their effects on biodiversity. The six months will allow to the students to be trained and to increase the ability to work on the scientific field and enhance the communication skills. In addition, to applying the knowledge learned in the academic field, the student will develop and acquire new technical skills necessary for the performance of the project activities. There will also be a training period abroad with one of the research group partners of the Plastic Busters MPAs project (e.g. IFREMER, Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Centro Oceanográfico de Baleares del Instituto Español de Oceanografía). At the end of the planned activities, he will be responsible for drafting the scientific report in which the results achieved and any scientific publications deriving from the project results will be reported. The results will be also presented at scientific conferences and disseminates to a wider general public.
For the development of the project, the student must have documented experience on the issue of marine litter and knowledge of the methods used to evaluate the impact on marine species
The student must also have the ability to collect organs and tissues of marine organisms and have acquired analytical, microscopic and molecular techniques for the evaluation of ecotoxicological state, as well as a good knowledge of instruments for the infrared spectroscopy analysis (eg. ATR-FT-IR).
Furthermore, the student should be available to spend a period of training abroad will be planned in order to increase the skills of the student.

4. Duration
The project will have a duration of six (6) months.

5. The research group

The research group coordinated by Prof. M.C. Fossi has played a key role in investigate the emerging theme of Marine Litter, in particular microplastics, from 2010, including the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive (D10 -MSFD). Since 2013, the University of Siena research group has been the scientific coordinator of the “Plastic Busters” project born in the framework of the United Nations project Sustanaible Development and Solution Network-Mediterranean and declared as UN-SDSN Med Flagship Project. The Project has also received the unanimous endorsement by the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), and achieved the prestigious UfM label in February 2016 ( litter/).
The Plastic Busters MPAs project made up of 15 European partners (, born from the Plastic Busters (SDSN) receive funding under the European Interreg-Mediterranean. The project will bring together the main experts at Mediterranean levels on the topic of marine litter, policy makers and stakeholders involved in the issue.
The activities of Plastic Busters MPAs has been followed on SkyTG24 Italy in the awareness campaign “Un mare da salvare.” ( and participated to several national TV programs (Linea Blu, Presa Diretta, Petrolio, ecc), The results of the projects and studies carried out in the last decade have been also published in several national and international newspapers and magazines (La Repubblica, Il Corriere della Sera, The independent, BBC press, La Stampa, Sette, ecc.).
The UNISI research group has also coordinated numerous national projects (Ministry of Environment, Tuscany Region) on the impact of plastics and microplastics on Mediterranean risk species (cetaceans and sea turtles) Plastic Busters MPAs is also on Twitter (, Facebook and a website (

6. Research group International partnership

– IFREMER Institut français de recherche pour l’exploitation de la mer,
– HCMR Hellenic Centre for Marine Research,
– SOCIB Balearic Island Coastal Observing and Forecasting System,
– ISPRA , The Institute for Environmental Protection and Research,
– Biochemistry and Environmental Toxicology, Higher Institute of Agronomy, University of Sousse (TN),
– IWRS, Institute for Water of the Republic of Slovenia (SI),
– CNR, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche,
– Consorzio Lamma (IT),
– ISOTECH – Environmental Research and Consultancy Cyprus

7. Research group main pubblications on the topic of the project

• Fossi M.C., Baini, M. Panti, C., Galli, M., Jiménez, B., Muñoz-Arnanz, J., Marsili, L., Finoia, M.G., Ramírez-Macías, D. Are whale sharks exposed to persistent organic pollutants and plastic pollution in the Gulf of California (Mexico)? First ecotoxicological investigation using skin biopsies. Compartive Biochemistry and Physiology Part C. 2017
• Baini, M., Martellini, T., Cincinelli, A., Campani, T., Minutoli, R., Panti, C., Finoia, M.G., Fossi, M.C. First detection of seven phthalate esters (PAEs) as plastic tracers in superficial neustonic/planktonic samples and cetacean blubber Analytical Methods. 9, 1512-1520, 2017.
• Cincinelli, A, Scopetani, Chelazzi, D., Lombardini, E, Martellini, T., Katsoyiannis, A., Fossi, M.C. Corsolini, S Microplastic in the surface waters of the Ross Sea (Antarctica): Occurrence, distribution and characterization by FTIR. Chemosphere, 175, 391-400, 2017.
• Fossi M.C., Marsili L., Baini M., Giannetti M., Coppola D., Guerranti C., Caliani I., Minutoli R., Lauriano G., Finoia M.G., Rubegni F., Panigada S., Bérubé M., Urbán R.J., Panti C., Fin whales and microplastics: The Mediterranean Sea and the Sea of Cortez scenarios, ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION, vol. 209, pagg. 68–78, 2016.
• Pedà C., Caccamo L., Fossi M.C., Gai F., Andaloro F., Genovese L., Perdichizzi A., Romeo T., Maricchiolo G., Intestinal alterations in European sea bass Dicentrarchus labrax (Linnaeus, 1758) exposed to microplastics: Preliminary results, ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION, vol. 212, pagg. 251–256, 2016.
• Romeo T., Battaglia P., Pedà C., Consoli P., Andaloro F., Fossi M.C., First evidence of presence of plastic debris in stomach of large pelagic fish in the Mediterranean Sea, MARINE POLLUTION BULLETIN, vol. 95, n. 1, pagg. 358–361, 2015.
• Panti C, Giannetti M, Baini M, Rubegni F, Minutoli R, Fossi M.C., Occurrence, relative abundance and spatial distribution of microplastics and zooplankton NW of Sardinia in the Pelagos Sanctuary Protected Area, Mediterranean Sea., ENVIRONMENTAL CHEMISTRY, vol. 12, n. 5, pagg. 618–626, 2015.
• Fossi M.C., Michael H Depledge, Exploring the potential of large vertebrates as early warning sentinels of threats to marine ecosystems, human health and wellbeing., MARINE ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH, vol. 100, n. SI, pagg. 1–2, 2014.
• Fossi M.C., D. Coppola, M. Baini, C. Guerranti, L. Marsili, C. Panti, E. de Sabata, S. Clò, Large filter feeding marine organisms as indicators of microplastic in the pelagic environment: The case studies of the Mediterranean basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) and fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus), MARINE ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH, vol. 100, n. SI, pagg. 17–24, 2014.
• G.A. de Lucia, I. Caliani, S. Marra, A. Camedda, S. Coppa, L. Alcaro, T. Campani, M. Giannetti, D. Coppola, A.M. Cicero, C. Panti, M. Baini, C. Guerranti, L. Marsili, G. Massaro, Fossi M.C., M. Matiddi, Amount and distribution of neustonic micro-plastic off the western Sardinian coast (Central-Western Mediterranean Sea), MARINE ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH, vol. 100, n. SI, pagg. 10–16, 2014.
• Galgani F, Claro F, Depledge M, Fossi M.C., Monitoring the impact of litter in large vertebrates in the Mediterranean Sea within the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD): Constraints, specificities and recommendations, MARINE ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH, vol. 100, pagg. 3–9, 2014.
• T. Campani, M. Baini, M. Giannetti, F. Cancelli, C. Mancusi, F. Serena, L. Marsili, S. Casini, Fossi M.C., Presence of plastic debris in loggerhead turtle stranded along the Tuscany coasts of the Pelagos Sanctuary for Mediterranean Marine Mammals (Italy), MARINE POLLUTION BULLETIN, vol. 74, n. 1, pagg. 225–230, 2013.
• M.H. Depledge, F. Galgani, C. Panti, I. Caliani, S. Casini, Fossi M.C., Plastic litter in the sea, MARINE ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH, vol. 92, pagg. 279–281, 2013.
• Fossi M.C., Panti C., Marsili L., Maltese S., Spinsanti G., Casini S., Caliani I., Gaspari S., Munoz-Arnanz J., Jimenez B., Finoia M.G., The Pelagos Sanctuary for Mediterranean marine mammals: Marine Protected Area (MPA) or marine polluted area? The case study of the striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba), MARINE POLLUTION BULLETIN, vol. 70, n. 1–2, pagg. 64–72, 2013.
• Fossi M.C., C. Panti, C. Guerranti, D. Coppola, M. Giannetti, L.Marsili, R. Minutoli, Are baleen whales exposed to the threat of microplastics? A case study of the Mediterranean fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus), Marine Pollution Bulletin, vol. 64, pagg. 2374–2379, 2012.


All the above for cyclists who sign up for the Granfondo Strade Bianche through the pectoral support provided by the Rotary Club Montaperti and the organizer RCS, and their carers.
It will be possible to access the accomodation of the organization only for who will have signed a pectoral support and their family members, or for those who have signed a minimum free donation of € 100 for the Palstic Buster service.
For cyclists who can claim a pectoral support for the Plastic Buster service, the registration fee is set at € 200 and entitles to start on the first starting grid in the Medicea Fortress, and includes the race pack and the special jersey.

The hotel is in the center, served by an escalator that allows you to reach Piazza del Campo in maximum 10 minutes on foot.
The starting point of Strade Bianche is 5 minutes away by bike, and 15 on foot.
It has ample parking for private cars and a public one within walking distance.
It has a bike storage and an outdoor washing area, however it allows you to bring the bikes in the room but only if clean.
Offers are made starting from a minimum stay of 3 nights and additional days.
The hotel offers solutions in single, double and triple, with bed and breakfast or half board option.
For the evening before the race the restaurant of the hotel can prepare food on request and on the morning of the race offer breakfast starting at 6.00

The initial availability is 25 rooms that can reach a maximum of 45 on the usual structure that can be used as double single use, double and partly triple, for the 5 nights of 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 March 2019. .

The rates for a minimum stay of 3 nights are the following:
Room and breakfast in double single use € 80.00
Room and breakfast in double or double € 45.00
Room and breakfast in triple € 40.00
Half board in double single use € 100.00
Half board in double € 65.00
Half board in triple € 60.00
Prices per person, per night, including VAT and service, excluding tourist tax.

The rates for additional nights are as follows:
Room and breakfast in double single use € 50.00
Room and breakfast in double or double € 35.00
Room and breakfast in triple € 30.00
Half board in double single use € 70.00
Half board in double € 55.00
Half board in triple € 50.00
Prices per person, per night, including VAT and service, excluding tourist tax.

Dinner includes first course, main course, dessert and mineral water.
These prices are at least 15% less than offered by

The option within which customers must book is as of December 31, 2018.
By 10 January 2019 it is required to pay a deposit equal to 30% of the booked services.


The program for those who ride by bike, day 7 reconnaissance on the course of the race from the start up to Monteroni d’Arbia and return to Siena for about 60 \ 70km (but for those who want can become 90 \ 100 ) that we have already partly done together in Val di Merse and Val d’Arbia.
On the 8th the reconnaissance goes on the final part, the last 60 \ 70km (but if one wants can become 90 \ 100 whit Monte Sante Marie) where we will find all the Pro Team to do the same thing, with final in Piazza del Campo where usually there it’s the final coffee with the best pro riders.
On the 9th there are the two races of the Pro, women and men, and usually you go to see them in more points of passage or by car or bike depending on how you prefer, however we will all wait for you or at the top of Santa Caterina ( the last one goes inside the city) or in Piazza del Campo for the arrival.
On the 10th we will have the Granfondo!

7 morning 10-13 am / 9,40 appointment at the hotel reception

The city of Siena and its monuments in external + visit to the Civic Museum (ticket cost pax € 9 without reservation, € 8 with reservation, for groups over 15 pax € 8 without reservation and € 7.5 with reservation) The ticket is free for accompanying teachers, group leaders (1 every 15), handicapped persons and journalists.

Lunch tasting of typical local products at Morbidi in the main street of the city € 20

7 afternoon 17,30-23 / visit to the stable, museum and the church of the Nobil Contrada del Bruco with dinner of typical products € 35

8 morning 10.30-13.30 Visit to the Duomo / 10.10 am appointment at the hotel reception

Duomo Complex (Cathedral, Crypt, Baptistery, Museo dell’Opera del Duomo with Salita al Facciatone for panoramic view) + Porta del Cielo with the exceptional visit to the attics (ticket price OPA-All-Inclusive Sipass, € 20 + € 1 per booking)

Lunch tasting of typical local products at Consorzio Agrario di Siena in the main street of the city € 20

8 afternoon 17,30-19 / meeting at the Department of Physical Sciences, the Earth and the Environment of the University of Siena for the awarding of the scholarship

9 morning 10 / on reservation visit to the winery (to be defined) with wine tasting.