2021 – 2026

Seychelles, Mauritius, Comoros, Madagascar, Reunion Island


© Projet ExPLOI


Plastic waste pollution of the oceans is a global environmental challenge that affects all oceans. The impacts are multiple, on the environment, health but also on economic activities (tourism, transport, fishing) or recreational activities.

The western Indian Ocean is an oceanic area with little information on the extent of plastic pollution and its risks for marine ecosystems and the health of island populations. Moreover, the developing island states in this region are territories whose size does not generally allow for sufficient critical masses of waste to develop sustainable treatment channels, which undermines initiatives for plastic substitution (eco-design) and waste recycling in the context of a circular economy. Furthermore, there are strong disparities between the Western Indian Ocean island states that are members of the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) regarding the level of requirements and control related to national regulations on waste.

There is therefore a crucial need for IOC member states to unite to fight against plastic pollution.

La mer pas une poubelle! (créole)

© IRD/CNRS - Thierry Bouvier


The ExPLOI project supported by the IOC aims to provide a comprehensive response to the problem of plastic pollution. In this perspective, ExPLOI is articulated around 3 components:

1. Scientific component : improving knowledge of the impacts of marine pollution by plastic

Collecting data on plastic in the Indian Ocean with the mapping, typology and analysis of ecotoxicity, knowing that 75% of tuna consumed in the European Union comes from the IOC region (it is also the second region in the world in terms of tuna volume exports). The UMR MARBEC is in charge of the scientific management and the coordination of the implementation of this component, which associates 24 partners of the Western Indian Ocean region regarding :

  • a regional oceanographic campaign
  • a regional observatory of marine plastic waste
  • studies on the biodegradability of plastics in the marine environment
  • studies on the impact of plastics on the ecosystem and society
  • studies on the impact of plastic on coastal aquaculture uses
  • anthropological approaches on the human perception of the risk linked to marine plastics
  • studies on the social economic cost of plastic pollution

2. Environmental education and plastic pollution awareness

An education and awareness component for young people (scholarships, mobilization of the Indian Ocean eco-school network, artists' residencies), scientific, recreational and cultural stopovers in the main ports of the Western Indian Ocean, a collaboration with the Blue Penny Museum in Port Louis for traveling exhibitions. The strong potential of visibility and passion around the ships will allow to better mobilize political leaders during the stopovers. The UMR MARBEC is in charge of the implementation of the artists' residencies, the dissemination of knowledge, and the link with political leaders.

3. The development of a regional circular economy

Promotion of the circular economy in association with École Nationale Supérieure d'Arts et Métiers and AMVALOR on the valorization of research in the private sector and in action. They will propose innovative business models and technological solutions that have a positive impact on the environment and methods of production. AMVALOR will visit all IOC countries to ensure that their technological offer is appropriate locally for the plastic waste insular management. The project will then move toward starting an incubator in order to disseminate appropriate technology to the private sector as a profitable business.

Sensibilisation aux déchets plastiques

© IRD/CNRS - Thierry Bouvier


Scientific coordination : Thierry Bouvier, CNRS/IRD – UMR MARBEC