#NOPLASTICWASTE has joined forces with Australian sailing icon Jon Sanders AO OBE as he attempts to circumnavigate the globe. Jon Sanders was the first man to circumnavigate Antarctica solo, circling the continent twice in 1981 – 1982 in his yacht, the Perie Banou. Now 80 years old, he has successfully sailed around the world 10 times. This will be his 11th. Why is he doing this? To raise awareness about the amount of plastic ending up in the world’s oceans and the devastating impact it is having on marine life.
The Voyage, The Study
Each day of his trip, Jon will be filtering ocean water. At each stop throughout the journey, these filters will be sent to Curtin University to be analysed by their Department of Organic and Isotope Geochemistry Centre to quantify the number and types of microplastic particles, providing a unique record of a complete global transect including regions of the southern ocean. While a study based on an 11-year data set in the North Pacific estimates a weight of 21,290 metric tons of floating micro plastic in the regions he will explore, there is very little data for the world’s southern oceans.
MICROPLASTICS IN OUR OCEANS
Plastic pollution is one of the biggest and most imminent health and environmental threat facing our planet. Research suggests plastic debris makes up to 95 per cent of marine pollution from land-based sources. Marine plastic pollution not only comprises visible items, such as single-use packaging and fishing gear, but also the microplastics and nanoplastics that are released directly into the environment or created by the fragmentation of larger items.
The legacy and reach of fossil-fuel based plastics (FFP) is strikingly demonstrated by its impact on the most remote and inaccessible marine ecosystems. Microplastics have been found in the hindguts of the majority of crustaceans sampled in deep ocean trenches around the Pacific Rim, at the deepest points of the ocean. Much of this plastic appears to have been produced before the 1970s, implying that it has taken 50 years to reach its final resting place, and that the far vaster quantity of plastic pollution generated since is still working its way through the marine ecosystem.
The best available predictions suggest that with increasing mismanagement of plastics there will be one tonne of ocean plastic for every three tonnes of fish by 2025, the equivalent of 600 plastic bags for every 10kg fish.