Ocean Voyages Institute Removes 40 Tons of Plastic, including 5-Ton Ghost Net

Largest Ocean Clean Up Mission/ A Turning Point For Ocean Plastics

Link to the Press Release.

Sausalito, CA – Ocean Voyages Institute, a nonprofit organization, announced today that it has successfully removed more than 40 tons of fishing nets and consumer plastics from the area known as the North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone, or more commonly known as the Pacific Gyre.

The sailing cargo ship, S/V KWAI, arrived in Honolulu today, having completed a 25-day clean up mission. In the Pacific, between California and Hawaii, four ocean currents converge to create a vortex that collects huge amounts of plastics. One sees detergent bottles, beer and soft drink crates, bleach and cleaning bottles, plastic furniture, packaging straps, buckets, children’s toys, and myriad types of plastic floating mid-ocean. This debris field covers vast expanses of ocean.

A prime target for OV Institute’s 2019 voyage was the fishing gear called “ghost nets.” Often weighing tons, these massive nets of nylon or polypropylene drift for decades, amassing plastic debris, ensnaring wildlife, and even entangling ships. An estimated 600,000 tons of this abandoned gear ends up in the oceans every year. According to the United Nations, some 380,000 marine mammals are killed every year by either ingesting or being caught in it.

“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 nets and other debris are signs of the proliferating plastic pollution that poses threats to marine life, coastal environments, shipping, fisheries, wildlife and our health.”

OV Institute utilized expert drone operators on board, flying survey patterns off of both KWAI and our plastic survey vessel AVEIA to find additional debris. The effectiveness of this year’s mission reinforces our plan for expanded clean up missions in 2020 over a 3-month period, using the S/V KWAI and additional clean up vessels, one of which will be adapting fishing gear to fish for plastics.

During the past year, OV Institute recruited yachts and ships to attach satellite trackers to the ghost nets they encountered. These bowling ball-sized trackers, once activated, signal the nets’ locations in real time. This data enables OV Institute to find and retrieve the trackers and ghost nets. As the ocean tends to sort debris, the tagged nets, have shown us to areas of heavy debris distribution, so that many additional nets and other items can be harvested.

OV Institute collaborated with Nikolai Maximenko and Jan Hafner of the University of Hawaii, coordinating the NASA-funded FloatEco project that studies physical processes controlling long-range drift of marine debris and its accumulation in some areas of the ocean as well as biological processes controlling evolution of the pelagic floating ecosystem.

Ocean plastic pollution was unknown merely forty years ago. Today, plastic has been documented in the deepest parts of the ocean—near the Mariana Trench (depth 36,000 feet) and in the most remote ocean ecosystems, such as Antarctica.

Crowley, a lifelong sailor, launched her first 30-day research expedition to the North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone in 2009. Additional expeditions occurred in the following years, including small scale clean up missions.

“It is very disturbing to be sailing through what was only decades ago a pristine ocean wilderness and find it filled with our all-too-familiar garbage,” 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?”

Ocean Voyages Institute 2019 Summer Marine Debris Clean-Up Expedition

Ocean Voyages Institute’s 2019 Expedition will be REMOVING ghost
nets and massive amounts of plastic from the North Pacific Gyre. Our
actions provide solutions:

• Capturing ghost nets/debris that we tagged with Satellite trackers before it
entangle and kill marine life

• Removing toxic plastics from our ocean and food chain
• Restoring the health of our ocean
• Preventing damage to ships, boats, reefs and shorelines
• Ocean Voyages Institute (OVI) plans to share our technology and best practices
globally with the intent of inspiring others to join our efforts worldwide
• We already have partners throughout the world including others joining our ghost
net retrieval this spring in Sweden and Hong Kong

Learn More and Help make a difference!


‘Awareness and action, this is what is needed. We live in a
time where nearly every problem has a solution. The question is
are we ready to make it a priority to protect 72% of the planet?
Because that is the size of our blue heart of the global ocean.
Ocean Voyages Institute and our collaborators around the world
believe now is the time for action.’
~ Mary T. Crowley, Executive Director, Ocean Voyages Institute

WE in the maritime industry know and understand this in a way
few others do. As mariners, many of us see the problem
first hand. We can all be dynamic parts of the solution by our
stewardship on our own yachts and supporting effective at-sea
ocean clean-up.

People are beginning to realise the magnitude of this
urgent issue and are seeking solutions. I am sure many of you
are aware of the devices being designed for ocean clean-up. I
herald all efforts for viable solutions, however, I deeply believe
that we already have the right equipment and expertise within
the professional maritime industry to accomplish efficient ocean
clean-up now with well proven equipment.

Learn More.

Ocean Voyages Institute – Ghost Net Tagging and Retrieval

During the kick-off year of our ghost net clean-up in 2018, 18 satellite trackers were deployed by various vessels of opportunity in the Pacific.  With the help of citizen scientists and other ships of opportunity, OVI will continue to tag large, floating plastic debris in the North Pacific Gyre with our satellite tracking buoys.  Continuing into 2019 there will be additional trackers deployed with plans for a clean-up expedition mid-year. The goal is to continue this cycle of tagging and clean-up in following years.

Tavish Campbell attaches a GPS tracker onto ghost fishing nets in the North Pacific Gyre. The buoy will send the position of the nets as they travel around the gyre, increasing our understanding of how trash accumulates in the gyre, plus giving us the ability to locate the ghost nets to retrieve. The crew of the Greenpeace ship MY Arctic Sunrise voyaged into the North Pacific Gyre documenting plastics and other marine debris.

Assembly Bill Would Cut Plastic Trash To Ocean

Assembly bill AB 521 introduced this past February aims to clean up marine debris and shift the cost of controlling pollution to the responsibility of the manufacturers who produce it. Introduced by assemblymen Ben Hueso (D-San Diego) and Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay), the bill declares plans to identify the products that contribute most to plastic ocean trash, set goals for recycling more of them, and reduce the litter they create.

Read the full article Here

Unfinished Business: The Case for Extended Producer Responsibility for Post-Consumer Packaging

Americans generate more waste than any other country in the world but recycle far less than other developed nations. Post-consumer packaging materials comprise the largest category of solid waste, and U.S. taxpayers pay for its management.

In Unfinished Business: The Case for Extended Producer Responsibility for Post-Consumer Packaging, As You Sow describes how extended producer responsibility would boost the U.S. packaging recycling rates and transform how recycling is funded.

Extended producer responsibility, or EPR, shifts the responsibility for post-consumer waste from taxpayers and municipal governments to the companies that produce the packaging, creating incentives for producers to reduce the amount of packaging they create, increasing packaging recycling rates, providing revenue to improve recycling systems, and reducing carbon and energy use.

Continue reading “Unfinished Business: The Case for Extended Producer Responsibility for Post-Consumer Packaging”

Seabirds Study Shows Plastic Pollution Reaching Surprising Levels

<img class="size-medium wp-image-214" title="Albatross Ingests Plastics" alt="chris_jordan_plastic-filled-stomach_albatross" src="http://www.oceanvoyagesinstitute.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/chris_jordan_plastic-filled-stomach_albatross-300×225.jpg" width="300" height="225" srcset="http://www.oceanvoyagesinstitute.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/chris_jordan_plastic-filled-stomach_albatross-300×225 pop over to these guys.jpg 300w, http://www.oceanvoyagesinstitute.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/chris_jordan_plastic-filled-stomach_albatross.jpg 700w” sizes=”(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px” />
Photo by Chris Jordan

Plastic pollution off the northwest coast of North America is reaching the level of the notoriously polluted North Sea, according to a new study led by a researcher at the University of British Columbia.

The study, published online in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin, examined stomach contents of beached northern fulmars on the coasts of British Columbia, Canada, and the states of Washington and Oregon, U.S.A.

“Like the canary in the coal mine, northern fulmars are sentinels of plastic pollution in our oceans,” says Stephanie Avery-Gomm, the study’s lead author and a graduate student in UBC’s Department of Zoology. “Their stomach content provides a ‘snapshot’ sample of plastic pollution from a large area of the northern Pacific Ocean.”

Continue reading “Seabirds Study Shows Plastic Pollution Reaching Surprising Levels”