The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is mostly fishing gear
Author: Ashwini Sakharkar
The subtropical oceanic gyre in the North Pacific ocean is currently covered with tens of thousands of tonnes of floating plastic debris, dispersed over millions of square kilometers. This accumulation zone is referred to as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) and has become a symbol of the impact of the widespread use of plastics and their discarding in the global ocean.A new study by the Ocean Cleanup project and Wageningen University has revealed that the majority of the plastic debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch originates from fishing activities at sea. Founded in 2013, the Ocean Cleanup project has since developed technology to extract plastic pollution from the oceans. The plastic is collected by a huge floating U-shaped barrier, which is towed through the water by ships located at either end. Previous research by the company has shown that almost half of the plastic mass in the GPGP is comprised of fishing nets and ropes, with the remainder largely composed of hard plastic objects and small fragments. While the provenance of fishing nets is obvious, the origins of the other plastics in the GPGP have – until now – remained unclear.