Kwai on ocean cleanup

The RMI’s SV Kwai out in the North Pacific collecting garbage from the Pacific Gyre. Photo: Ocean Voyages Institute.

KAREN EARNSHAW

Crew of the Marshall Islands’ vessel, the SV Kwai, are taking part in a bid to remove many tons of plastic garbage from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. 

The Ocean Voyages Institute has chartered the Kwai from the Marshall Islands Shipping  Corporation and, according to the institute’s website, it set sail from the Hawaiian port of Honolulu on World Oceans Day, in early June.

The Director of the MISC, Danny Wase, confirmed this week that the Kwai is currently at the Patch, which is also known as the Pacific Gyre. “She should be heading home in August after completing the garbage collection. This goes along with fulfilling RMI’s commitment and support in sustainable sea transport and climate change, and reduction in gas emission.”

According to the site Safety4Sea, during its 45-day voyage, the 140-foot Kwai will collect garbage with the help of satellite beacons that have been placed on nets by crowd-sourced volunteer yachts and commercial vessels. “Drones on board the Kwai will also assist the vessel to collect the debris and store it in the ship’s cargo hold for recycling and re-purposing at the end of the voyage.”

The President and Founder of the non-profit, California-based Ocean Voyages Institute, Mary Crowley, stated on the institute’s site: “The oceans are the lifeblood of our planet and create two out of every three breaths we take. We depend on the oceans for our health and the health of our planet. Our expeditions showcase that solutions to plastic pollution can be achieved.”

She added that the current expedition is “building upon the over 500,000 pounds of plastic Ocean Voyages has removed from the ocean.”

The vessel’s captain and veteran environmental activist, Locky MacLean, said: “We are grateful to the Republic of the Marshall Islands for being a part of this campaign as several island nations declare climate emergencies.”

The crew is made up of seamen from the Marshall islands, Kiribati, Fiji, Canada, South Africa, Britain and Germany.

The Kwai has removed plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch on a number of occasions. For example, the Kwai’s blog reports that the Kwai removed tons of plastic from the Garbage Patch in June, 2019. The captain at the time, Brad Ives, described the Patch for Journal readers this week: “The Pacific Gyre is an area in the North Pacific where currents and winds collect plastic. A ship entering this zone will find plastic floating on the surface. This can be small bits covering the sea. A bucket full of ocean will bring in up to 10 pieces.

“Next will be found all kinds of plastic waste … many bottles, fishing floats, crates, chairs.  The top of the chain is fishing nets. These attract to each other until they make up big balls, containing all sorts of nets, rope, floats and other debris. 
“The ocean currents and winds collect these masses of plastic and Kwai’s work is to get as much as possible out of the ocean and back to land for recycled uses, or burning to make electricity.”

“Subscribe”

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 696 other subscribers.