45 Day Expedition crosses Pacific from Honolulu to California, traversing over 4600 miles of debris filled Ocean
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – July 26, 2022 – Ocean Voyages Institute announces that after 45 days at sea, its sailing cargo ship has arrived in port, docking in California for the first time, with 96 tons of recovered plastic “ghost” nets, derelict fishing gear and consumer plastic waste from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. “Our Captain and crew are outstanding,” says Mary T. Crowley, President and Founder of Ocean Voyages Institute. “I am proud of their hard work and grateful for their passion to help our ocean.”
Crowley adds: “The ocean is the blue heart of our planet. Keeping our ocean healthy is vital to ocean life and our own health. Our clean up missions give me great hope for the future of our ocean because change is possible.” Ocean Voyages Institute, a Sausalito, CA based non-profit organization uses a 130- ft. sailing cargo ship, the KWAI, to carry out cleanup missions in the North Pacific Sub-Tropical Convergence Zone. The 2022 mission brings the group’s total to over 692,000 pounds of plastic removed from the ocean, which includes the Largest Open Ocean Clean Up In History (340,000 pounds in 2020). “I am grateful to have been given the responsibility to take on this massive task on behalf of Ocean Voyages Institute,” says the vessel’s Captain Locky MacLean. “Many of my crew are from the Pacific Islands, and we all do this good work for our children, so they will benefit from healthy oceans.” He continues: “Marine areas cover more than two thirds of our planet and are the main component of our life support system here on Earth, absorbing carbon and generating the very air we breathe, they cannot continue to be taken for granted.”
Sailing cargo ship departs Honolulu to capture massive amounts of plastic debris
HONOLULU, HI – June 7, 2022 – An ongoing mission to remove plastics from the oceans, led by Ocean Voyages Institute, sets sail on World Oceans Day to the Pacific Gyre from the Hawaiian port of Honolulu, amid emergency climate declarations by several South Pacific Nations, including Vanuatu and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
“The oceans are the lifeblood of our planet and create two out of every three breaths we take” says Mary T. Crowley, President and Founder of Ocean Voyages Institute. “We depend on the oceans for our health and the health of our planet. Our expeditions showcase that solutions to the plastic pollution issue can be achieved now.”
Ocean Voyages Institute, a Sausalito, CA based non-profit organization is utilizing a 140 ft. sustainable sailing cargo vessel to conduct cleanup in the North Pacific Sub-Tropical Convergence Zone. This summer’s mission is to continue removing the proliferating, harmful plastics from the Great Pacific Garbage Gyre. This expedition is building upon the over 500,000 pounds of plastic Ocean Voyages has removed from the ocean, which includes the largest open ocean clean up in history (340,000 pounds in one summer).
The Government of the Marshall Islands, which purchased the vessel KWAI under a new sustainability initiative started at the Paris Climate Accords, has committed to reducing its carbon footprint by 30% by 2025.
The vessel’s Captain, is Locky MacLean, a veteran ocean conservationist and environmental activist, whose previous work includes stopping whaling in the Antarctic, and providing maritime aid to hurricane affected countries in the Caribbean.
“We are grateful to the Republic of the Marshall Islands for being a part of this campaign, as several island Nations declare Climate Emergencies,” says MacLean. “The use of the vessel KWAI, a sustainable sailing cargo ship, assists Ocean Voyages Institute in continuing the removal of plastics from the ocean, which otherwise would break down and hamper ocean plankton’s ability to trap carbon.”
Ocean Voyages Institute’s international crew is composed of professional seamen from the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Fiji, Canada, South Africa, UK and Germany. The ship will be at sea for over 40 days, docking to offload nets and plastic debris mid-way through the expedition, prior to embarking on a second leg.
Ocean Voyages Institute uses a wide range of methods, including UAVs, GPS trackers attached to debris and satellite imagery, in order to efficiently recover the debris. Once recovered, plastic and nets are stored in the ship’s cargo hold for proper recycling, up-cycling, and repurposing at the end of the voyage.
Ocean Voyages Institute is a member of a multi-disciplinary group of NASA funded researchers (FloatEco) coordinated by Dr. Nikolai Maximenko from the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s School of Earth and Ocean Science and Technology. This group’s research data adds to understanding the dynamics of floating plastic and its interaction with the marine ecosystem in the open ocean.
Ocean Voyages Institute first started its ocean cleanup initiative in 2009 and has led many successful cleanups including removing 170 tons (340,000 pounds) of marine debris in the North Pacific Gyre in 2020 and over 91,000 pounds in 2019 at sea and along coastal areas during cleanup work around the Hawaiian Islands.
Founder Mary Crowley’s goal to remove 1 million pounds of debris from the North Pacific Gyre is already well underway, and funding is still needed to expand our ocean cleanup effort. To learn more and to donate visit us at www.oceanvoyagesinstitute.org or call our office +1.415.332.4681
Ocean Voyages Institute, For the Oceans Foundation, and Costa Rica’s Ministry of Environment and Energy launch marine pollution recovery and protection mission in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Marine Corridor
PUNTARENAS, CR – Less than two months after signing a promising new marine conservation collaboration agreement comprising the areas of Coco’s Island National Park, Golfo Dulce and the surrounding waters of the Thermal Dome with Costa Rica’s Minister of Environment and Energy, Andrea Meza Murillo, and Jorge Serendero, Executive Director of For the Oceans (FTO), a Costa Rican foundation, a fundamental advance in the partnership is announced with the arrival of Ocean Voyages Institute’s plastic recovery vessel, kick-starting the tasks committed to in the public-private agreement.
The initiative, with the objective of protecting migratory species within the Eastern Tropical Pacific Marine Corridor from marine plastic pollution and illegal fishing, benefits from the ghost-net recovery and marine clean-up expertise of Ocean Voyages Institute, a non-profit organization based in California which has set a World Record for removing over 170 tons of plastic debris from the North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone or Gyre.
In addition to removing plastic debris, the partnership will also perform =at-sea monitoring operations in marine protected areas. The Ministry of Environment and Energy in cooperation with For the Oceans Foundation and Ocean Voyages Institute will be working cooperatively to protect Costa Rica’s marine environment against Illegal, Unreported or Unregulated (IUU) fishing and other illicit activities in the protected areas of Osa, Guanacaste, Central Pacific and Coco’s Island, as agreed with SINAC, Costa Rica’s Conservation Areas Network, and in light of the recent creation of the EasternTropical Pacific Marine Corridor (CMAR) initiative between Panama, Ecuador, Colombia and Costa Rica which both joins and increases the size of their protected territorial waters to create a fishing-free corridor covering more than 500,000 sq km (200,000 sq miles) in one of the world’s most important migratory routes for sea turtles, whales, sharks and rays.
At sea marine clean-up operations in Costa Rican waters will be carried out throughout November, with the objective of a long-term collaboration between OVI, FTO and MINAE to assist in protecting Costa Rica’s rich marine biodiversity.
“We are truly honored to be collaborating with Andrea Meza Murillo, the Minister of Environment and Energy and Jorge Serendero, Executive Director of For the Oceans Foundation. We look forward to working closely together to protect Costa Rica’s beautiful marine environment”, stated Mary Crowley, the founder and president of Ocean Voyages Institute.
Costa Rica’s sovereign decision to double the surface area of all its Protected Wild Areas will require greater monitoring, control and surveillance efforts to comply with local legislation on protection and management of marine resources. Ocean Voyages Institute’s vessel will be operating within Costa Rican waters in the area of Guanacaste Conservation Area throughout the month of November, carrying out marine clean-up operations before returning to Puntarenas to responsibly recycle and up-cycle any plastic debris recovered, in collaboration with MINAE and For the Oceans Foundation.
OVI commends the Governments of Panama, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Columbia in announcing at COP26, the Eastern Tropical Pacific Marine Corridor (CMAR) Initiative.
By increasing the size of their protected territorial waters, these Central American Nations have joined together to create a fishing-free corridor covering more than 500,000 sq km (200,000 sq miles) in one of The World’s most biodiverse migratory regions for sea turtles, sharks, whales and rays.
This newly created “Mega-MPA” is a series of lines drawn on a map, but this unique corridor can only be protected if the area is adequately monitored, to keep foreign fishing fleets from exploiting the region’s rich marine biodiversity, as well as to limit illegal, under-reported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activity.
OVI is deploying a vessel to the region, our mission to protect The World’s Oceans from marine plastic pollution continues. Stay tuned for more information on OVI’s work in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Marine Corridor.
Ocean Voyages Institute would like to thank WinTogether and SAP for helping to fundraise for a cleaner ocean. Funds raised in the CLEAN OCEANS CAMPAIGN will go towards OVI’s goal of removing One Million pounds of ghost nets and toxic plastics from our seas.
When carbon in the atmosphere is photosynthesized by algae in the oceans, zooplantkon eat the algae and drop carbon-rich feces to the sea-floor. Plastics are disrupting the ocean’s ability to store carbon, as zooplankton also ingest plastic.
ByFusion teams up with Ocean Voyages Institute to convert 40,000 lbs of plastic waste from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch into construction-grade building material
ByFusion announces off-take partnership with Ocean Voyages Institute (OVI), repurposing 20 tons of marine debris and plastic waste into construction grade building materials. The ByFusion-OVI partnership will ‘close the loop’ on the largest ocean clean up in history by not only removing plastic waste from our oceans but giving it a permanent purpose by converting it to a building material that can be used for modular structures, landscaping, sheds, outdoor spaces and a number of other applications.
In June 2020 OVI completed a 48-day mission to collect plastic marine debris from the ocean which took place in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP), located halfway between Hawaii and California. The GPGP is the largest of the five offshore plastic accumulation zones in the world, spanning an area twice the size of Texas.
The Kwai, the ship collecting the debris, departed from Hilo, Hawaii on May 4, 2020 and returned to Honolulu, Hawaii on June 29, 2020. Mary Crowley, the Founder & Executive Director of OVI, spearheaded the plastic cleanup efforts which ultimately removed more than 100 tons of plastic from the Pacific Ocean, the largest collection in history.
“It’s an honor to have all these toxic materials out of the ocean,” said Crowley. “They’ll be recycled and repurposed— nothing will end up in a landfill, nothing will ever go back in the ocean. The ocean is a source of health for us as a planet and for us as human beings. We have to take care of it and provide a healthy habitat for ocean creatures.”
Of the debris collected, ByFusion will repurpose 20 tons into approximately 4,000 construction-grade building blocks which will be put to use in a number of projects, exhibitions, and products that will be available in the market later this year.
“We’re thrilled to be a part of this important initiative, supporting the incredible work that OVI is doing to clean up the ocean,” said Heidi Kujawa, CEO of ByFusion. “Our zero waste process creates a valuable building material from all types of plastic waste, including marine debris and fishing nets, ensuring the plastic is repurposed and put to good use.”
The remaining 80 tons of marine debris will be converted into reusable fuel, shoes, apparel, and more. This record-breaking 103 ton cleanup is just the beginning of collecting and giving purpose to the 150 million tons of plastic polluting the world’s oceans.
ByFusion® is an innovative manufacturing company committed to preserving the recycling industry, protecting the environment and giving plastic a new life by reshaping its future. A certified B Corporation, and an essential cog in the wheel of a circular economy, ByFusion has a patented process that converts all types of plastic waste into an advanced building material called ByBlock®. ByFusion’s recycling solution enables communities, corporations and governments to realize a cleaner world while creating jobs, improving infrastructure and revitalizing neighborhoods. ByFusion has been recognized by The New York Times, Forbes, Fast Company, Architect, Recycling Today, WasteDive, 1% for the Planet, US Green Building Council, and the Alliance to End Plastic Waste.
Record-breaking season prompts non-profit group to raise the bar on open ocean clean-up after 340,000 pounds of plastic waste pulled from Great Pacific Garbage Patch
HONOLULU, HI — August 5, 2020 Ocean Voyages Institute’s marine plastic recovery vessel, S/V KWAI, docked in Honolulu today, after 35 days at sea, successfully concluding the second and final haul of the non-profit group’s 2020 open ocean recovery mission, adding 67 tons to the record-setting 103 tons (206,000 pounds) removed in June, which became the largest open ocean clean-up in history.
The non-profit group’s total for the summer season now amounts to 170 tons (340,000 pounds) of ghost nets and plastic debris removed from the North Pacific Gyre (Great Pacific Garbage Patch), a staggering amount, which quadruples the group’s previous year’s record.
Ocean Voyages Institute’s Founder and Executive Director Mary T. Crowley states her group’s efforts are just getting started. “With plastic set to outnumber fish by 2040, we humans are responsible for the oceans collapsing in my lifetime, and we must set ambitious targets to tackle the problem of plastic in the ocean,” continuing, “even with our record-setting clean-up, I know we need to do more, and our 1 million pound goal is my commitment to the essential undertaking of cleaning the oceans of plastic.”
Ocean Voyages Institute’s high seas clean-up expedition began in May, with a 48-day mission, followed by a second 35-day leg which departed on July 1st, with the KWAI logging more than 5000 nautical miles from Hawaii to the Pacific Gyre and back twice this summer.
Today in Honolulu, Ocean Voyages Institute crew returned with a cargo hold full of ghost fishing nets and toxic plastic debris for the second time this summer. While docked in Honolulu, the ship’s crew will sort the debris into various types of plastics for upcycling and recycling with help from local volunteer groups.
“This summer definitely had its challenges, from COVID-19 and having to quarantine our hard-working crew, to almost not being able to depart on the second leg of our mission due to funding gaps,” added Crowley. “Now I feel like we are on a roll, and the support from around the world has been so encouraging, I know we will reach our million pound goal and keep going cleaning our oceans and encouraging major changes in the use of plastics.”
HONOLULU, HI — June 23, 2020 – Ocean Voyages Institute’s marine plastic recovery vessel, S/V KWAI, docked at the port of Honolulu today, after a 48-day expedition, successfully removing 103 tons (206,000 lbs.) of fishing nets and consumer plastics from the North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone, more commonly known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch or Gyre.
Establishing its lead in open ocean clean-up, Ocean Voyages Institute has set a new record with the largest at sea clean-up in the Gyre to date, more than doubling its own results from last year.
“I am so proud of our hard working crew,” says Mary Crowley, founder and executive director of Ocean Voyages Institute. “We exceeded our goal of capturing 100 tons of toxic consumer plastics and derelict ‘ghost’ nets, and in these challenging times, we are continuing to help restore the health of our ocean, which influences our own health and the health of the planet.”
Crowley adds: “The oceans can’t wait for these nets and debris to break down into microplastics which impair the ocean’s ability to store carbon and toxify the fragile ocean food web.”
Known as the “Ghost Net Buster,” Crowley is renowned for developing effective methods to remove significant amounts of plastics out of the ocean, including 48 tons (96,000 lbs.) of toxic plastics during two ocean clean-ups in 2019, one from the Gyre and one from the waters surrounding the Hawaiian islands.
“There is no cure-all solution to ocean clean-up: It is the long days at sea, with dedicated crew scanning the horizon, grappling nets, and retrieving huge amounts of trash, that makes it happen,” says Locky MacLean, a former director at Sea Shepherd and ocean campaigner in marine conservation for two decades.
The GPS satellite trackers used by Ocean Voyages Institute since 2018 are proving Crowley’s theory that one tracker can lead to many nets. The ocean frequently sorts debris so that a tagged fishing net can lead to other nets and a density of debris within a 15 mile radius.
The Pacific Gyre, located halfway between Hawaii and California, is the largest area with the most plastic, of the five major open ocean plastic accumulation regions, or Gyres, in the world’s oceans.
“We are utilizing proven nautical equipment to effectively clean-up the oceans while innovating with new technologies,” says Crowley. “Ocean Voyages Institute has been a leader in researching and accomplishing ocean clean-up for over a decade, granted with less fanfare and attention than others, but with passion and commitment and making meaningful impacts.”
Ocean Voyages Institute will be unloading the record-breaking haul of ocean plastic debris while docked alongside Pier 29 thanks to the support of Honolulu-based Matson, in preparation for upcycling and proper disposal.
“In keeping with our commitment to environmental stewardship, Matson has been searching for a way to get involved in cleaning up the Pacific Gyre,” said Matt Cox, chairman and CEO. “We’ve been impressed with the groundbreaking efforts of Ocean Voyages Institute and the progress they’ve made with such a small organization, and we hope our support will help them continue this important work.”
An Expanded 2020 Expedition
When the sailing cargo ship, S/V KWAI, arrived in Honolulu today, it completed a 48-day at sea clean-up mission that began at the Hawaiian port of Hilo on May 4, after a three week self- imposed quarantine period to ensure the health of crew members and safety of the mission, in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the expedition, the KWAI’s multinational crew collected marine plastic pollution with the help of GPS satellite trackers that Ocean Voyages Institute designed with engineer Andy Sybrandy, of Pacific Gyre, Inc. These beacons are placed on nets by volunteer yachts and ships. Drones, as well as lookouts up the mast, enable the ship’s crew to hone in on the debris. They then recover the litter, place it in industrial bags, and store it in the ship’s cargo hold for proper recycling and repurposing at the end of the voyage.
S/V KWAI, led by Captain Brad Ives, and Ocean Voyages Institute are planning a second voyage to the Gyre departing the end of June to continue clean-up of this area, which is so besieged by toxic debris. The length of a second summer leg will be determined by how successful Ocean Voyages Institute is in securing additional donations.
“Our solutions are scalable, and next year, we could have three vessels operating in the North Pacific Gyre for three months all bringing in large cargos of debris,” says Crowley. “We are aiming to expand to other parts of the world desperately needing efficient clean-up technologies.”
Crowley adds: “There is no doubt in my mind that our work is making the oceans healthier for the planet and safer for marine wildlife, as these nets will never again entangle or harm a whale, dolphin, turtle or reefs.”