We’ve alluded to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch before, though we haven’t shared any stories covering it directly. Last week, The Guardian reported some good news from The Netherlands, where the prototype for a 100km-long, crowdfunded cleanup boom for the ocean was tested successfully. Arthur Nelsen reports:
Further trials off the Dutch and Japanese coasts are now slated to begin in the new year. If they are successful, the world’s largest ever ocean cleanup operation will go live in 2020, using a gigantic V-shaped array, the like of which has never been seen before.
The so-called ‘Great Pacific garbage patch’, made up largely of tiny bits of plastic trapped by ocean currents, is estimated to be bigger than Texas and reaching anything up to 5.8m sq miles (15 sq km). It is growing so fast that, like the Great Wall of China, it is beginning to be seen from outer space, according to Jacqueline McGlade, the chief scientist of the UN environmental programme (Unep).
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) says it is encouraged by the attention being given to the Pacific’s pollution problem but cautions the technology is at an early stage. “There are a lot of feasibility issues with new technology and with open ocean cleanups,” Asma Mahdi, a Noaa spokeswoman told the Guardian.
Mahdi singled out the distribution of ocean debris way below the visible garbage patch, and the potential for harming sealife caught in the project’s cleanup barrier.
“By skimming floating debris off the surface, we may be doing more harm than good for marine surface-dwellers,” she said. “This includes the microscopic plankton that are the base of the marine food web and responsible for nearly half of the oxygen production that occurs on our planet.”
Read the full, original article here.