Source: Ocean Voyages Institute
Nonprofit organization Ocean Voyages Institute has announced that it removed more than 40 tons of plastic waste from the area commonly known as the Pacific Gyre, or the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. After a 25-day cleanup mission, the 140-foot cargo sailboat S/V KWAI arrived in Honolulu, Hawaii carrying a haul consisting mostly of abandoned plastic fishing nets, but also various consumer plastics such as bottles, crates, toys, and packaging. Among the “ghost nets” retrieved from the ocean was a single net weighing around five tons.
“Satellite technology played a key role in our recovery effort, offering an innovative solution to finding areas of dense plastic pollution,” said Mary Crowley, Founder and Executive Director of OV Institute. The team also used drones to find additional debris. The success of the mission has reinforced the institute’s plan for an expanded cleanup in 2020, deploying the S/V KWAI as well as additional vessels over three months.
The problem of ghost nets is massive: By some estimates, some 600,000 tons of discarded fishing gear ends up in our oceans every year, and the United Nations says 380,000 marine mammals are killed annually by either ingesting or being ensnared in it. Says Crowley. “Urgent action is needed at all levels: curtailing the manufacture of throwaway plastics, preventing plastic trash from entering the oceans, and enlisting the public, corporations, and the maritime industry in education, prevention, innovation and massive cleanup efforts. The question is, are we ready to make it a priority to protect 72 percent of the planet?”
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