6 Jul 2009

Work starting on Pacific plastic clean-up

12:36 pm on 6 July 2009

Preparations are underway for the first stage in a bid to clean-up the Pacific's haul of plastic debris.

Project Kaisei, an arm of a 30-year-old American marine conservation organisation, Ocean Voyages Institute, is sending a ship to what's known as the North Pacific Gyre, a large-scale swirling current north of Hawaii, in order to study how to capture and recycle plastic waste.

The gyre is though to contain plastic rubbish covering an area of almost one and a half million square kilometres.

One of the project's founders, Mary Crowley, says there are 10 other gyres across the world's oceans and they all contain significant amounts of plastic waste.

"The South Pacific Gyre, I mean, I have talked to sailing friends who have sailed through it and have ended up with being amazed at how much garbage there was. It's so distressing that you can be in remote parts of the world and find all this debris."

Mary Crowley says the Kaisei leaves for the North Pacific Gyre at the beginning of August.