24 Jun 2019

Device to clean plastic from the ocean redeployed in Pacific

5:41 pm on 24 June 2019

A floating device has been redeployed in a second attempt to clean up a huge island of rubbish swirling in the Pacific Ocean between California and Hawaii.

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Photo: The Ocean Cleanup / Pierre Augier

The creator of the Ocean Cleanup Project, Boyan Slat, said a 600 metre long floating boom that broke apart late last year was sent back to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch last week after four months of repair.

A ship towed the U-shaped barrier from San Francisco to the patch in September to trap the plastic.

But during the four months at sea, the boom broke apart under constant pressure from waves and wind and wasn't retaining the plastic it caught.

"Hopefully nature doesn't have too many surprises in store for us this time," Mr Slat tweeted. "Either way, we're set to learn a lot from this campaign."

Fitted with solar-powered lights, cameras, sensors and satellite antennas, the boomis programmed to communicate its position at all times, allowing a support vessel to fish out the collected plastic every few months and transport it to dry land.

The plastic boom is intended to act like a coastline, trapping some of the 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic swirling in the patch while allowing marine life to safely swim beneath it.

During its first run, marine biologists on board the support vessel did not observe any environmental impact.

Mr Slat hopes one day to deploy 60 of the devices.

Meanwhile, ASEAN leaders at a summit in Bangkok signed a declaration on Saturday to fight against plastic pollution.

The Bangkok Declaration on Combating Marine Debris was adopted by leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which includes four of the world's top polluters: China, Indonesia, The Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand.

- AP, Reuters