Washington, Sep 11 (IANS) An ambitious project to clean up the ocean’s plastic pollution got underway as members of The Ocean Cleanup project began towing their system out to sea, a media report said.
If it works as expected, the system will try to take a bite out of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — a huge collection of floating trash that’s three times the size of France, or about double the size of Texas, CNN reported on Monday.
The Ocean Cleanup System 001 consists of a 2,000 foot long floating barrier with a 10 foot skirt that hangs below it, under the water.
It looks like a section of pipe, or a giant pool noodle — a pool noodle that’s longer than the One World Trade Centre skyscraper in Lower Manhattan.
It set sail on Saturday from San Francisco, California, and is being towed 240 nautical miles off shore for a two week test to make sure that it behaves as expected in the open ocean.
When it’s deployed, it will curve into a U-shape as it is pushed by the wind and waves. The slow moving system will corral the plastic floating on the surface, while fish and other ocean life can swim underneath.
Smaller boats will then come and scoop up the plastic and take it back to shore, where it can be recycled.
“One of the challenges we have is we want to catch plastic, not fish,” CNN quoted Joost Dubois, head of communications at The Ocean Cleanup, as saying on Monday.
He said the crews will manually check the garbage to make sure they don’t accidentally catch fish or other marine animals.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the nickname for an area between Hawaii and California, where plastic and other human-made litter and debris accumulate, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
It is caused by a rotating current, called a gyre, that pulls in the trash and won’t let it go. There are several around the world.
An estimated eight metric tonnes of plastic wind up in the oceans every year.