Ocean Voyages Institute’s marine plastic recovery vessel S/V Kwai returned to port of Honolulu this month 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.
“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.”
During the expedition, the Kwai’s multinational crew collected marine plastic pollution with the help of GPS satellite trackers designed by Ocean Voyages Institute and 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 home 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.
One tracker can lead to many nets, as the ocean frequently collects debris in such a way that a tagged fishing net can lead to other nets and a density of debris within a 15-mile radius.