Several important things are happening that will help highlight the problem of ocean plastics in Aotearoa and the Pacific.
A research foundation set up by Captain Charles Moore after the discovery of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – The Algalita Marine Research Foundation – are establishing a South Pacific branch. The Algalita is the vessel who first discovered the north pacific garbage patch – and they are a important champion of reducing ocean waste. Earlier this year they had an expedition to the South Pacific and found a plastic patch roughly comparable to the North Pacific one and tracked a significant amount of NZ waste in it. Check out this article https://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/94879644/new-research-maps-massive-plastic-patch-floating-in-the-south-pacific
In February 2018, a visit from two ocean pollution campaigners will highlight the issue. Marcus Eriksen and Anna Cummins co-founded the 5 Gyres Institute which is dedicated to studying gyres and working tirelessly around the world to reduce ocean waste. The 5 Gyres Institute has provided much of what we today know about ocean current behaviours and waste. Marcus and Anna will be speaking in Whaingaroa, Ahuriri (Napier Aquarium) and Whanganui-a-Tara at the Waka Odyssey Festival. They will also be training our ocean voyaging waka crews in plastic surveying so these crews can collect data and raise consciousness across the Pacific islands as they voyage. The first coastal transect of microplastic surveys will occur on board Te Matau a Maui with a crew of East Coast youth in February as it voyages down the East Coast to the Festival in Whanganui a Tara.
Marcus and Anna’s trip being supported by Massey University and the Okeanos Foundation for the Sea, along with Tina Ngata – The Non-Plastic Māori. Tina’s facebook page is a good plastic to get updates. You can listen to a great interview with Marcus from a few months back on Radio NZ here.