Welcome to the first Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research (CLEAR) newsletter! You’re receiving this because you’ve worked with us before, or signed a sheet expressing interested in our lab over the last year. CLEAR is a marine science laboratory based at Memorial University of Newfoundland dedicated to citizen science, environmental justice, and equity. These are some of the thing we’ve been up to:

Fish Tag Citizen Science Project

Ten years ago, a beachcomber in Scotland discovered shotgun shell casings and fish tags originating from Newfoundland. Based on his findings, scientists believe that currents are carrying plastics from Newfoundland waters to the coast of Scotland. The Fish Tag Citizen Science project aims to create a database of tags that have been found. What citizen scientists will be looking for are brightly colored plastic bands with text and numbers engraved on them. For more information on this project, including how to get involved, visit our Citizen Science Fish Tag Project page.


Bringing Citizen Science into Grade 7-12 Classrooms

Now teachers can use plastic monitoring devices in their grade 7-12 classrooms! Working with Let’s Talk Science, CLEAR has aligned three of our citizen science tools with the Newfoundland curriculum. These include protocols for studying plastics on the surface of the water with two plastic trawls (Ice Cream Scoop and BabyLegs), and for monitoring plastics along shorelines and on land. Instructions for how to build and use the tools are now online, along with a curriculum alignment guide so teachers can integrate the projects into Newfoundland and Labrador curriculum requirements.
For more information about this project, or how to get involved, visit Let’s Talk Science’s Marine Plastic Monitoring page.

Ongoing Monitoring of Plastics in Fish on the Island of Newfoundland

CLEAR has an ongoing commitment to monitor plastic contaminants in fish caught for food in Newfoundland and Labrador. Since 2015, we have surveyed 1,429 fish from 3 different species, often with help from fishermen and women on wharves during the food fishery, where we collect our samples. We are pleased to share our results, some of the lowest ingestion rates in the world:
Atlantic cod: 1.19% of over 1,000 cod ingested plastic. That’s just over 1 in 100 fish. These include nearshore and offshore fish from the east and south shores of Newfoundland.
Capelin: 0% of over 350 capelin ingested plastics. Capelin came from commercial fishermen on east and south shores of Newfoundland during the capelin roll in 2016.
Atlantic Salmon: 0% of 69 wild-caught salmon had ingested plastics. These fish were from Campbellton River.
Silver hake: 0% of 134 silver hake had ingested plastics. While silver hake are not caught for food in Newfoundland, they are fished commercially on Scotian shelf south of Newfoundland and in New England in the United States.

Special thanks to citizen scientists who donated their fish guts to us, to the Marine Institute (MI) of Memorial University, to Women in Science and Engineering, and to DFO for helping with samples.

We will be continuing these studies this coming year, focusing on the west and north coasts of Newfoundland and the east coast of Labrador. If you’d like to contact us about working in your area, or if you have fish or other wild food guts you’d like to share with us, please contact Max Liboiron at

For more information on this project, visit Plastics in Newfoundland Fish: Newest findings, 2017


Workshops on monitoring plastics in your food web​

CLEAR hosted workshops on how to monitor microplastics in food fish this October in Iqaluit, Nunavut, for the second year Environmental Technology Program (ETP) students at the Research Institute of Nunavut. Lead by Hillary Bradshaw, the workshop focused on how to find tiny microplastics that are hard to see using a “laboratory” setup with kitchen tools. If you are interested in hosting CLEAR for such a workshop, please contact us!

Join us for Open Lab

Friday, December 1 from 12-1:30, CLEAR will open its doors to family, friends, and the public. Come see what we’re up to, meet lab members, and take a look at samples from our projects. Kids, dogs, and grandparents especially welcome. Our lab is in room 1107A in the Science Building at Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s.

CLEAR Open Lab


Plastics from Fishing Gear on Fogo Island

One of the types of plastics we’ve consistently found in our studies is the green nylon thread from fishing gear. We’re working to figure out the impacts of fishing gear on cod, and are studying gear to see if we can reduce its fragmentation in the marine environment. As part of her MSc. in Fisheries Science at the Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland, Jacquelyn Saturno is working on Fogo Island as our focus point for this project. Since Fogo Island is a fishing community, she is studying the relationships between fishing gear nylon shed during the fishing process and the presence of this plastic in the fisheries food web.
To see more on this project or to contact Saturno, see the
 Fogo fishing gear project webpage.

CLEAR Goes North

Northern waters in Canada are understudied in terms of marine plastic pollution. This summer, CLEAR member Justine Ammendolia  took a toolbox of citizen science tricks around the north eastern Atlantic. Using a hand-made surface trawl (research net) called LADI, Ammendolia sampled for floating plastics around Sable Island, Nunavut, Nunatsiavut, Nunavik, Labrador and Greenland.  Throughout it all, as part of the Young Explorers Program (Explorers Club/Adventure Canada) and the Science-in-Residence Program (Adventure Canada), Ammendolia showed these do-it-yourself scientific strategies to others aboard the ships, turning a lavatory sink into a laboratory for researching plastic pollution en route!
Our email address is:

Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research
C/O Max Liboiron
SN2006, Department of Geography
Memorial University of Newfoundland
St. John’s, NL A1C 5S7

This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
CLEAR · 230 Elizabeth Ave · SN 2012 · St. John's, NL A1C 5SL · Canada

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp