Recycled regatta: world heritage site highlights plastic pollution crisis | Plastics

Pink Lion is the sort of boat you wouldn’t see in most regattas. Its body is made from bamboo, sourced from washed-up fishing tools, and it makes use of two outdated oil drums for buoyancy.

Equally unusual is Rasta Rocket – constructed from outdated plastic drain pipes, washed-up floats and fishing buoys.

These have been two of the boats within the inaugural Aldabra Regatta: an ironic try to attract consideration to marine plastic pollution by racing boats constructed from marine particles.

Two men stand by a colourful outrigger boat with fuel drums as the hull.
Martin van Rooyen, a researcher, and Luke A’Bear, a science coordinator, put together to set sail on Pink Lion, buoyed by discarded oil drums

Organised by the Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF), a non-profit organisation that manages the Aldabra atoll, the occasion was a enjoyable however nonetheless last-ditch effort to combat again towards the waves of plastic washing up on this Unesco world heritage site.

“A good portion of three boats was constructed from marine litter related to the fishing trade,” says Luke A’Bear, the science coordinator for Aldabra and a part of a group that lives on the remoted analysis station all yr.

The bamboo for Pink Lion comes from fish-aggregating units (FAD) – floating objects used to draw sure species of fish. They’re usually deserted by the fishing boat to save lots of gas on the journey again to shore. Enormous chunks of bamboo, which might take years to degrade, wash up on the seashores of Aldabra, blocking turtles from coming ashore to nest.

“Sadly, there is no such thing as a consequence and little or no incentive for FAD restoration,” says A’Bear, explaining how the choice to carry the regatta felt like a determined transfer. “It will take years for any significant coverage or laws to come back into pressure.”

One other boat, Wakanda, constructed by Rickpert Woodcock, an electrician, and Alex Rose, who works in logistics, with wooden recovered from the seashore, additionally used washed-up floats for stability. A fourth, Floppy, was constructed by the supervisor of Aldabra island, Jude Brice, utilizing a part of a wood canoe that had washed ashore.

Logistics assistant Alex Rose and electrician Rickpert Woodcock compete in Wakanda, made from from washed-up wood.
Alex Rose and Rickpert Woodcock manoeuvre Wakanda, constructed from washed-up wooden and floats

Island nations equivalent to Seychelles bear the brunt of marine plastic pollution because of the convergence of ocean currents. On Aldabra, researchers have noticed the endemic big tortoises consuming plastic, seabirds entangled in fishing strains and different examples of the havoc wreaked by marine litter on each terrestrial and marine ecosystems.

“Simply final week, we pulled out a 200-metre longline with hooks and buoys that had acquired caught on the coral. We needed to connect it to the boat to have the ability to pull it off. It simply stored coming and coming,” says A’Bear. “And that’s only one lengthy line.”

“At our most conservative estimate, round 68 tonnes of marine litter will get washed ashore yearly,” says April Burt, an SIF analysis affiliate primarily based at Oxford College, who co-led the five-week Aldabra Clean-up Project (ACUP) in 2019.

The collective effort eliminated 25 tonnes of collected plastic litter from the atoll, at a value of $225,000 (£170,000), however that’s merely a fraction of the 513 tonnes that ACUP researchers estimate nonetheless stays. “This quantity [also] didn’t account for the brand new litter arriving annually,” Burt provides.

An amazing 83% (by weight) of the marine particles remaining on Aldabra is fishing-related gear, together with buoys, nets, ropes and FADs.

The regatta was not an in depth race: Floppy led all through the 1.5km course, ultimately profitable by greater than 300 metres, with Rasta Rocket edging Wakanda for second place. The individuals loved themselves, however they’re severe concerning the challenges forward.

“In the event you went to the seashores cleaned in the course of the ACUP, you wouldn’t know that they’ve been cleaned,” says A’Bear. “Typically there’s 55kg of litter washed-up alongside a 50-metre stretch – in a single month. We’ve cleaned a seashore a month earlier than, and it’s such as you’ve executed nothing. It’s miserable.”

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