The Beginning of the End of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

I reckon we just string nets across all the Asian and African (and anywhere else) rivers and straits and catch it all before it gets to any ocean. There will be a big catch and more than a few of God’s sea creatures will be sacrificed for the greater good.

Then we could get all the world’s eco-catastrophists to harvest the catch, sort it into each category of recyclable, and then watch their heads explode when they find nobody wants it and they’ll have to dig a hole and bury it (or burn it). Keep them off our backs for decades.


Also, just how does trash from Europe, Canada and US end up in South East Asia and Africa? Container ships full of trash are sent and unloaded in poor countries. The trash ends up burned in the open air or just left to destroy otherwise pristine ecosystems.

The clothing industry produces vast amounts of their stuff, high street brands sell it, and then what doesn’t end up at the consignment store goes to a ship and off to Africa to be burned in the open air or sold in their markets, sabotaging local industry (unable to compete).

I think you lovely mariners more than anyone know the routes taken by the trash produced in rich countries since you move the containers around, even as you risk your life doing so: you don’t know what kind of flammable or explosive garbage you are carrying that will set the ship on fire. I think just the fact that properly inspected loads with the paperwork in order is a great start to pollution control. Because the great enabler of pollution is Corruption.

:slight_smile: :nerd_face:

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OK so now you have pointing out all the things that is wrong with this attempt.
Maybe we can now hear your solution?
The plastic that is already in the ocean and is floating around in the Pacific Gyre is there, it is real and it will not go away by itself. (except breaking down into micro plastic, which is harder to collect and easier for fish to eat)

Stringing nets across river and streams doesn’t get ride of what is already in the oceans, incl. lost and discarded fishing gear that never was in rivers and streams.
OK here is a novel though; stop using and throwing away so much plastic in developed countries…

BTW; Stop pretending to “source sort” and collect for recycling, when actually exporting your problem to developing countries.
Much of it too dirty to recycle, and/or mixed with other problem waste material that is costly to destruct responsibly.

China and Malaysia are now sending it back to you, with a note saying;
“Take care of your own rubbish”.


The Dutch inventor Boyan Slat is the CEO and founder of the non-profit Ocean Cleanup that just finished the test phase and are now ready to start the cleaning operation.

There is also serious criticism from marine biologists who warn for instance about the dangers of this system: Boyan Slat’s plastic catcher is ineffective, very expensive and potentially a disaster for marine life.

Personally I have doubts about the physical strength of the floating tubing system. Knowing a little bit about the fury and strength of the sea I wonder that the system can cope with these conditions. The 600 meter tube with 3 meter screens hanging underneath could easily be blown out of the water and tied in a knot or something like that. The forces of nature or often underestimated.


If weather like that is forecast the towing vessels pull in the system and take evasive action.
Just like pelagic trawlers that pull large nets, or seiner that deploys even larger and deeper nets to encircle schools of fish.
When the weather forecast is bad they either seek shelter, move to fishing grounds where the weather is favourable, or ride it out with the majority of the crew getting some well deserved rest

PS> Mørenot who developed the “Cod end” of the system makes some of the largest trawls and sein nets on the market:

PS> They also deliver towing and handling solution for the large spread used by modern seismic vessels.


Posted in 2019.

There is still a trade off for a couple hundred tons of plastic vs. a couple hundred tons of air pollutants. Ecologically it’s unsound practice when a demonstration project with such high direct and indirect costs is not needed. Pair trawling is again, not innovative.
As to finding actual solutions, rather than my pointing fingers, reducing exports of waste to less-responsible end users has already happened, I believe, and of course reducing waste is smart. Focusing more on prevention of an ongoing problem rather than having a camera-friendly trash pick up thousands of miles away while the sources are still continuing to emit waste is not just silly, it’s insupportable as a means of dealing with the problem. It’s not unlike dealing with an oily bilge by hiring a chase boat to follow you around with sorbent pads, while utterly ignoring what’s going on in the bilge. While I recognize that removal of extant plastic in the deep ocean is a positive thing, scalar and economic issues apply, and the further offshore, the worse it would be. Economics will dictate that efficiency will be necessary, barring access to unlimited resources. Sadly, resources are never unlimited.
Prevention and for now, focus on nearshore solutions to STOP plastics getting offshore is the only viable solution for practical reasons. Plenary Indulgence-esque behaviors like funding the pair trawling trip on a needle-in-haystack joyride is satisfying emotionally but not effective. The impact is not significant enough to justify the cost, not when the cost of a single voyage is likely far in excess to the cost of reducing or eliminating waste before it hits salt water.

I mean, wouldn’t you want to close the barn door first, rather than chase the horses down out in the fields?


Asia is still throwing a huge amount of plastic in the sea so why wait till its travelled half way around the world?

Saying that…

The biggest pile of plastic I have ever seen as in you could see it on the radar was at the mouth of the rhone after a big storm
It was a semi circle about 30miles around and 3m high in the med.

No Pair Trawling is not new, nor is pulling a barrier to collect oil from the surface of the sea. What is new is using a similar method to collect garbage, incl. floating plastic of all kinds and size.

Picking plastic waste along a highway that “more responsible end users” has thrown out the car window is admirable, as is source sorting , but it does not get rid of what is already floating around in the Pacific Gyre.
As for exporting waste; that hasn’t stopped. China and a few other countries has stopped accepting dirty waste from rich countries that isn’t willing to take the responsible for recycling their own waste, but there are still such export going on to other, less developed countries.

The Dutch non-profit organization behind developing the process of collecting plastic waste that is already floating around in the Pacific Gyre and at river mouths all around the world may not succeed immediately, but they have managed to get a large company like Maersk to offer their boat and smaller companies, like Mørenot to offer their service to develop and produce the equipment to carry out experiments on the other side of the earth.

Again, what have you done to solve the problem??
Complaining is easy, but coming up with a solution to any problem is hard

BTW; Did you clean your plastic waste before throwing away and did you throw it in correct bin for recycling, or just toss it in whichever bin was handy??

PS> Most of the plastic waste collected for recycling does not actually get recycled and reused,. it is either too dirty, or of the wrong kind:

You can recycle plastic?
I thought everyone just found out it was shipped somewhere else once they refused it, its just mounting up.

One word … Pyrolysis.

Crews don’t get rest in bad weather.
Ask the cook.

A yes that is true. After first getting 8-10 hrs. of sleep people want to eat and watch movies. No rest for the Cooks and Catering personnel.

Why would I, a marine scientist and mariner, have had to make suggestions to be able to give my opinion? Isn’t that a bit arbitrary? I’m not a butcher either but I sure have an opinion on steak.

I gave a talk a few years ago on cost-benefit analysis of gene-line biosecurity regulations for Atlantic Salmon farming in the EU, despite not being a citizen of the EU. Or a salmon.

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So has others:


As far as trapping plastics in the river is concerned, the horse is already out in the fields.

I think many changes need to occur at design level first and foremost. Plastics are designed by chemistry specialists. Products are designed with certain purposes in mind and when they are done, they are simply discarded. A container of detergent is not used twice by the end consumer, and that is done purposefully, as retail businesses make money from the sale of measured products. Though there are markets where you can bring your own container and buy in bulk, most do not.

Petrochemical companies who produce and supply these products should be made to pay and pick up that trash, and supermarkets should also be made responsible in minimizing the garbage heap, they make money from pollution.
Governments should also consider that legislating certain products to be wrapped in ungodly layers of plastic is against their own best interests, as the ensuing trash is a cost governments have to bear in maintaining landfills and environmental clean-ups. There are no more labels on one pair of jeans: they are now books full of legal notifications. Pages and pages of polyester strips sewn on by exploited labor in the East.

That’s the consequence of design.


Living in Singapore you should be familiar with the barriers that is installed across many of canals and storm drains to collect plastic and other debris that flows towards the sea, or reservoirs. Many have been in place for decades:
Here is one that is also serving as a handy lookout point for a heron:

There is also the collection boats that operate on the rivers and major canals:

And the larger ones that operated in Marina Bay and around shipyard and wharfs in the port area:

PS> There is also regular pickup of garbage from ships at the anchorages.
(I couldn’t find a picture of any of those, though)


What has the Dutch ‘inventor’ Boyan Slat actually invented?

It doesn’t seem like he has actually invented anything, he is just using existing inventions to clean up plastic.

It is better to make an effort, rather than no effort. Many don’t call the plumber until a problem affects them personally. My hat is off to those that give a shit now, not later. Am I a “Greenie”? Aw hell No, but I do realize their could be changes in our own behavior being responsible regarding disposing of products and thier containers can help a bit… Not referring to the large or small commercial companies which have a large hand in this, and weather events. Just us regular/irregular people taking a bit of responsibility for our simple actions. Ain’t that hard.