Biology, ecology and biomedical science at Brighton

University of Brighton biosciences blog

Dr Coican with Countryfile's Anita Rani

BBC’s Countryfile to feature Brighton research 

University of Brighton research which found high quantities of glass microfibres in oysters is to be a main feature in an episode of BBC One’s Countryfile, scheduled for this weekend.

The groundbreaking research, which generated widespread publicity, could have significant impact on the oyster industry locally in Chichester Harbour where the study was carried out, as well as globally.

Further research planned will explore where the glass fibres are coming from and whether they are a significant factor in the reduction of oysters in the harbour causing the fishery to be closed last season.

The University was partnered in the research by Chichester Harbour Conservancy. Other collaborators were Friends of Chichester Harbour, Chichester Harbour Oyster Partnership Initiative, Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority, and Chichester Marina.

Lead researcher, Dr Corina Ciocan, Senior Lecturer in the University’s School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Science and the Centre for Aquatic Environments, said: “The original funding, from the University’s Centre for Aquatic Environments, funded a pilot study on microplastics pollution in Chichester Harbour. UK Research and Innovation provided funding through the University of Brighton’s Ignite programme, to ensure the sustainability of the project and to develop the partnership.”

Recently, an EU Interreg Channel project has been approved with Dr Ciocan as Lead Investigator for the University team. It will be partnered with the Chichester Harbour Conservancy and the aim will be to develop quick tests to assess the level and effect of contaminants in the water, on organisms including oysters.

Dr Ciocan said: “The project will contribute to the sustainability of the associated economic activities including oyster fishery in the harbour. We will continue to look at these issues, including with our students, and create impacts by exploring solutions to the problems identified.”

University researchers have been praised by partners. One said: “Our expertise is totally different to the university’s and we wouldn’t have known where to start trying to understand what is going on here. So, it’s been fantastic, and their willingness to come here and do the research, and put in lots of hours at difficult times, early starts, late finishes, all kinds of weather, and their dedication has been impressive. And the combination of … us both helping each other out, has really given a much better result for both organisations.”

The research was conducted as part of the University’s Community University Partnership Programme. Its Ignite initiative involves researchers working with local community partners to find tangible solutions to pressing problems that can have global applications. In some cases, such as Chichester Harbour, they can also have global applications.

View a short film showing our researchers and partners in action at:

The BBC Countryfile edition is scheduled for airing on Sunday, 26 July at 7pm.

Stephanie Thomson • July 23, 2020

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