Using GPS locators, crew collects 40 tons of ‘ghost nets’ floating in Pacific

Using GPS locators, crew collects 40 tons of ‘ghost nets’ floating in Pacific

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The crew of California-based cargo ship just arrived in Honolulu after completing the largest ever Pacific Ocean clean-up at sea.

Over the past month, they collected more than 40 tons of “ghost nets.”

The abandoned fishing gear accounts for nearly half the debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, catching and killing thousands of marine animals.

Crew aboard the sailing cargo ship "Kwai" offloaded tons of tangled nets Tuesday morning. Credit: Roy Hollowell
Crew aboard the sailing cargo ship "Kwai" offloaded tons of tangled nets Tuesday morning. Credit: Roy Hollowell

On Tuesday morning, the tangled nets were hoisted off the boat into containers on shore.

“The problem with plastic is it just lasts forever. So these nets continue killing marine life until they’re taken out of the ocean,” said Mary T. Crowley, the founder of Ocean Voyages Institute.

Crowley said the record haul is just the beginning of a project aimed at ridding the oceans of ghost nets and other plastics.

About a year ago, the non-profit started handing out special GPS devices to mariners, asking them to attach it to any abandoned fishing gear they find.

Over the past month Crowley’s crew used the satellite trackers to locate dozens of ghost nets drifting in the Pacific.

“They gather dolphins and turtles and fish. They’re killing machines,” said Crowley. “From our experience, where we would find one net, we would find more nets.”

Crowley says it’s her mission to make sure that none of the trash removed from the ocean ends up in a garbage dump. The majority of all the nets and debris that were collected will be taken to H-Power and turned into electricity.

“It will all be re-purposed to make sure none of it goes back into the ocean,” said Crowley.

A larger clean-up is in the works. But to make it happen Crowley says she’s going to need about a lot more of the reusable trackers.

Each one costs close to $1,600.

“It’s our goal to have about 150 of them to hand out this year,” said Crowley. “Our plan is to duplicate this very successful mission next year for a three month period.”

Click here to help Ocean Voyages Institute reach its goal.

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