This last trip was a luxury ride across a sacred place for me. We survived in spite of our lack of preparation. My main reason for this sailing gig, besides a ride home, was to have an opportunity to see for myself the legendary ‘Garbage Patch of the Pacific’. I did see it. It exists. You have to look closely though. I believe the statistics of approximently 35 million tons of plastic in this part of the ocean. But you have to take into account the vastness of the Pacific. Most people’s perception is a floating land fill ‘twice the size of Texas’ that you can just about walk across.
If you were to drive from LA to Las Vegas you would see several orders of magnitude more garbage. But the fact that it’s out here in my church is deplorable. Something definitely needs to be done about it. Most of the stuff we saw floating seems to come from the fishing fleet. Big clumps of polypropylene netting and lines. Plastic sea monsters that will stop a small vessel cold in it’s tracks and disable it if encountered in a bad way.
Lots of floats. Then odds and ends like packing containers and detergent bottles. The occasional flip flop or cooler. Then, on a calm day when the sea is still and the lighting just right, the truly disturbing stuff. The stuff that’s been out here for a while and degraded by sea and sun into small bits. Trying to degrade back to the eco-system but no truly a part of it any more.
So what’s to be done? First off, in our brown noise, short attention span, society I understand, this needs to be blow into a huge myth for people to take notice.
Firstly, ways need to be found to make the fishing and transport fleets more responsible in their actions, including fishing quotas and the fuel they burn and smear the sky with.
On the home front people need to be more responsible about their consumption and the ‘end use’ litter it generates.
I believe most of the land based stuff gets out there from storm drainage systems. Some communities in Southern California have mandatory filtering/screening systems for their rainwater run off. But not enough. This needs to be done all around the Pacific. It’s really not very difficult or complicated.
I found a secluded cove in Kauai who’s shoreline was strewn with laundry bottles and other Asian consumer packaging, a few flip flops and broken up floats that made great, yet mildly disturbing, hats.