With plastic litter set to outnumber fish in our ocean by 2040, we are setting continually scaled up goals to address the problem of plastic in the ocean; with our record-setting clean-up in 2020, we are inspired to do more! Our 1-million-pound clean-up is our commitment to continue upscaling our vital work this year and in years to come.
The Ocean Voyages Institute is sailing in the ocean removing massive amounts of plastic! In 2019, they removed 84,000 pounds of garbage and in 2020, they removed 340,000 pounds! Their goal is to remove 1,000,000 pounds of plastic from the ocean.
I love the Ocean Voyages Institute’s method – using GPS trackers to locate discarded fishing nets (ghost nets) floating at sea. Having personally seen the incredible amount of damage that ghost nets can do, I appreciate their work to remove them! And I applaud their use of technology to efficiently find these nets.
Human technology created many of the problems in the ocean. I’m thrilled to see our technology working to solve them!
Every year over 300 million tons of plastic are produced, much of it for one-time use and less than 5% of the world’s plastics are recycled. Plastic waste makes its way into our ocean from rivers, beaches, and landfills. Plastic is so light that the wind blows it and a huge amount ends up in our ocean, being destructive not just to ocean life but to the very functioning of our ocean.
Ocean Voyages Institute focuses on mid-ocean clean-up. OVI’s successful clean-up missions are based on the concept that ocean currents sort items. As a result of this, one ghost net can lead to many other nets. GPS satellite trackers are distributed to vessels of opportunity to tag discarded fishing gear when they encounter it. These trackers later are utilized to guide our clean-up vessels to these nets for removal, and likely to higher-density areas of debris.
Our ocean provides two out of three breaths that we take. Therefore, our ocean is crucial to our health and the health of our planet. At-sea clean-up is important also because the oceans are a “carbon sink” and absorb carbon dioxide emissions that would otherwise accumulate in the atmosphere. However, the ocean’s ability to store carbon is collapsing as a result of microplastics. With the threat of global climate change on the horizon, now is our opportunity to protect our ocean.
Many people believe that the ocean is too vast and difficult to clean up. However, professional maritime industry knowledge and equipment can be used to clean-up our ocean. Cleaning up our ocean highlights the urgent need for more responsible handling of waste on shore.
In 2020, Ocean Voyages Institute successfully removed 170 tons (340,000 pounds) of debris from the North Pacific Gyre, accomplishing the largest at-sea ocean clean-up in history. Our goal this year is to remove one million pounds of plastic from the ocean. In subsequent years, we will continue to scale up our endeavors and to expand globally.
The success of the 2020 voyages proved that focusing on ghost-net removal is not only an effective strategy for impactful ocean clean-up, but scalable. Removing ghost nets before they break down into microplastics enables us to clean-up several tons of marine debris within a very short period of time.