The prestigious CNR Award for Citizen Science: Guglielmo Marconi Library has been awarded to the remarkable SeaCleaner initiative, led by Silvia Merlino, a researcher at the Marine Sciences Institute of CNR in Lerici (La Spezia) and one of the researchers of the NAUTILOS’ team.

The award recognizes SeaCleaner’s outstanding contribution to addressing the critical issue of anthropogenic impact on marine environments.

Initiated in 2013, SeaCleaner emerged from the urgent need to combat the environmental challenges posed by marine litter, especially in isolated or protected coastal areas. Silvia Merlino’s project has demonstrated a comprehensive approach to Citizen Science, encompassing the dissemination of scientific principles, active engagement of citizens and stakeholders in the fisheries sector, and effective communication of the defense science can offer to the marine ecosystem.

SeaCleaner’s primary focus is on understanding the presence, distribution, quantity, and types of marine litter, particularly polymer-based waste. The initiative actively involves local communities, with a special emphasis on engaging young school-age individuals. The project’s success lies in its ability to develop standardized and comparable protocols for data collection, employing both traditional methods and innovative technologies such as aerial drones and seabed material collection.

Dr. Merlino, in her dynamic leadership, has successfully brought together diverse stakeholders, including schools, associations, researchers, and institutions like INGV, University of Pisa and Parma, ENEA, and several CNR Institutes. SeaCleaner’s collaborative efforts extend to projects such NAUTILOS H2020 project and to associations like Legambiente, Marevivo, Shibumi, Luna-sul-mare, Spazzapnea, and others such as scuba-diving groups.

The collaboration with NAUTILOS marks a strategic alliance to leverage resources, expertise, and citizens engagement efforts, exemplifying the power of partnerships in advancing marine science and citizen science contributions.

In recognition of SeaCleaner’s exceptional work, the project became a proud member of the newly established Citizen Science Italy Association in 2023.”