not so fantastic plastic
Reduce…Reuse…Recycle…Refuse…Return…Remove…Recover…Re-educate…Re-engineer, this was the mantra from the 5th International Marine Debris Conference held 2 weeks ago in Hawaii.
This past year my life has been overtaken by returning (to poverty mostly), removing, recovering, re-educating and re-engineering in an effort to clean up the ocean.
In October 2009 while on vacation on Matinicus Island, 22 miles off the coast of Maine, sitting on a perfect sandy beach, my wife Rachael Z Miller and I were surrounded by thousands of pieces of plastic and fishing gear that had washed up on to the beach. Our 2 Newfoundland’s Smudge and Hickory were doing their best to recycle most of the rope. Rachael does not get pissed about anything apart from trash in the water. My response to her was well "why don’t we do something about it". My big mouth has a habit of signing checks that the hand should not write and the bank account has no chance of cashing, zoom forward 1.5 years.
Rachael and I are the proud founders of the Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean a 501c3 non profit, we bought Dodge Morgan’s American Promise (8knt SB) from the Naval Academy (thats a whole other story, have you ever tried to buy a boat that’s treated on paper like a warship, well we are now experts on JAG’s and Admirals) to act as our mothership.
I am sure you have all heard of the scientific research on the Pacific Garbage patch and journeys to promote awareness of plastic in the ocean.
Rozalia Project is a bit different, we pick the plastic and derelict fishing gear up from the ocean either on the surface or on the sea floor.
Eighty percent of all marine debris, especially plastics, blows or washes from the land into our harbors and coastal waters. From harbors it migrates its way into the great gyres of the Oceans, where it breaks down into smaller and smaller particles, poisoning the water, wildlife, seabed and food chains with toxins. The Rozalia Project is targeting marine debris, especially plastics, that is in our harbors and coastal waters. This marine debris is relatively young, having just been blown or washed into our waters and tends to be whole or in big collectible pieces. We can make a dent in the problem of marine debris by collecting plastic before it degrades into uncollectible microscopic pieces.
I was racing in Palma, Spain last week amongst plastic bags bottles and several other unmentionables , this week I am in Albany, NY (shout out for Scarano Boatyard, best boys in the business of building modern schooners, the new America 2.0 schooner is coming soon) on the Hudson River trying to get my endless list of jobs done on American Promise. The river banks are covered with plastic bags and bottles. Houston we have a problem, its world wide.
I researched remotely operated vehicles whilst involved in a bit of clandestine activities at the cup when it was down in New Zealand, and Rachael and I have run them commercially ever since using Videoray micro rov’s equipped with Blue View imaging sonar, Tritech side scan Starfish sonar, Lyyn image enhancement system and KCF positioning system to locate debris on the sea floor and video and manipulator arms to pick up the trash. They are a pretty cool tool for picking up trash, and engaging kids in marine debris issues and solutions.
Underwater trash clean up with the ROV’S started last summer with pilot projects at Community Boating in Boston, Providence Community Boating and Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center where 475 junior program kids and adults, piloted the rov, managed the tether, collected and collated the trash.
We completed a survey of Brenton Cove, just off Sail Newport’s docks and found high concentrations of derelict lobster traps and beer cans (Tuesday racers we know who you are). We are coming back this July to clean up Newport harbor with Clean the Bay.
Derelict fishing gear is a large problem (how many of you have snagged a trap with your anchor, or had to cut a buoy line off the prop, please tie it back on? You deserve to be verbally abused by an irate lobsterman). In maine 5000 lobstermen fish 800 traps each and estimated yearly loss is 10% from storms and cutoffs. That’s a lot of derelict traps (plastic coated wire) and rope in the water.
Can you say plastic coated lobster. Rozalia Project wants to be part of the solution and are planning a pilot study this fall, where fishermen can call on us to locate and recover lost fishing gear. What did I say earlier return, reuse, remove.
Summer 2011 is going to be a busy summer. American Promise is going on Trash Tour to 15 New England yacht clubs and community sailing centers to clean up their local waters and get kids and adults involved in keeping those waters clean.
p.s if you see a fat man in a boat that looks like he can not afford, you have found American Promise and the Rozalia Project, come and say hello, bring beer preferably, the dogs only eat small children occasionally. Please come and visit us here; and tour locations and dates: Please donate: Our plan is to cover 2000 nautical miles this summer, $30/mile will fund the summer (that’s one round each at the bar) if you want your local waters cleaned or want to come on a trip, give us an email.
Please put the Rozalia Project out of business: put your plastics in the trash or recycling, not the ocean.