Volunteers removed over 40 tons of plastics and abandoned fishing gear in a recent clean-up of the area now commonly known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. If these “ghost nets” were not removed, they could cause entanglements in animals and serious damages to coral reefs.

Ghost Nets

Between the waters of California and Hawaii, there is an area where four ocean currents converge to a vortex that gathers plastic wastes. There, one can find plastic furniture, laundry detergent bottles, beer and softdrink crates, children’s toys, packaging straps, and various other plastic debris floating in the ocean.

For 2019, non-profit organization Ocean Voyages Institute’s goal for the 25-day clean-up mission is to remove fishing gear waste called “ghost nets.” These are nylon nets that can drift in the water for decades and can entangle both animals and ships, amass other plastic debris, and can cause damages to coral reefs. In fact, about 380,000 marine animals are killed each year from ingesting or getting caught in abandoned fishing gear.

After the successful clean-up, the organization was able to remove over 40 tons of plastic waste, including a 5-ton ghost net. With the help of drone surveys and the satellite trackers, they commissioned yachts and ships to place on the ghost nets they encountered. This not only helped them to locate the ghost nets, but also let them see the areas with heavy debris distribution.

Ocean Clean-Up

OV Institute is just one of the groups working to collect the plastic garbage that has amassed in the open ocean. Apart from the ghost nets that they recovered, the group also gathered tons of other plastic waste, 2 tons of which they then donated to local artists to turn into works that educate people about ocean plastic pollution. The refuse of the lot, they gave to a zero emissions energy plant to be incinerated and turned into energy.

“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?” urged Mary Crowley, Founder and Executive Director of OV Institute.

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