There’s no denying that sea life and coastal care is important in the South West. We’re surrounded by exquisite coastlines and beautiful waters, but we also know how much rubbish can end up polluting our sea.
A foundation based in the Netherlands called The Ocean Cleanup are now conducting tests on a floating barrier which could dramatically clean up the world’s oceans. The 328-foot-long prototype cleans up oil slicks and collects rubbish in its two-metre-deep screen beneath the surface.
The system is powered by the natural currents of the ocean, and acts as an artificial coastline. It will passively catch ocean debris and, as an attached cable system draws the ends of the barrier together to form a V, concentrate the rubbish to ensure easy collection.
The aim is to monitor how the barrier holds up in the rough ocean currents and gale force winds of the North Sea. Sensors on the barrier track every motion of the prototype, and the data will allow engineers to develop a system fully resistant to severe conditions. Once the tests are complete the foundation plans to deploy a 62-mile-long barrier in the Pacific Ocean and reduce the size of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by 50% in 10 years. This large collection of rubbish is about the size of Texas – bigger than our entire country!
The Ocean Cleanup are insisting this won’t affect sea life, although others remain sceptical. Ecologists have pointed out that whilst many organisms can swim under the barrier, there’s still potential to affect the distribution of top predators and other animals.