Largest ocean clean-up in history takes place on Pacific Ocean’s garbage island

Ocean Voyages Institute
Ocean Voyages Institute

After an expedition lasting 48 days, a crew specialising in deep-sea clean-up collected more than 100 tonnes of plastic waste, a world record.

On June 23rd, the Ocean Voyages Institute vessel S/V KWAI docked in Honolulu harbour with an impressive cargo of plastic waste, fishing equipment, lost or abandoned nets. In total, 103 tonnes of waste were recovered in the Pacific Ocean, between Hawaii and California, from the North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone, more commonly known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Never before has a team collected so much debris from this area.

The “Seventh Continent”

The North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone, or the Pacific Gyre, is one of the main areas where plastic waste accumulates in international waters. Its size would be equivalent to three times the size of France. Last year, teams from the Ocean Voyages Institute, who are committed to preserving the oceans, had already collected 48 tons of plastic waste during two sea trips.

“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,” explains Locky MacLean, former director at Sea Shepherd. New technologies are there to help the team in their mission, using, among other things, drones and GPS trackers attached to nets.

The 103 tonnes of waste collected will be “recycled and disposed of properly,” the organisation said. They already began a new expedition at the end of June.

Ocean Voyages Institute