More than just an eyesore ? it poses a risk to vessels, threatens human safety, harms wildlife and can result in economic losses. It is a significant problem and increased public awareness of environmental issues is forcing Governments and Public Authorities to take action.
Worldwide levels of unsightly and harmful marine debris are increasing due to increased commercial and recreational maritime usage, and the proliferation of non-biodegradable plastics and other products.
Marine Debris can consist of household garbage, food containers, wood and logs, trees, sewage, oil, aquatic vegetation and dead fish, but a significant portion of the pollution will be from commercial and industrial operations. Whilst fishing gear, ship's cargo, oil and other marine waste are possible ocean sources, most marine debris comes from land-based sources, either through storm outlets, fly-tipping or discarded litter. Much of this trash is made of non-biodegradable plastics such as bottles, carrier bags, food and household containers and poses a significant environmental threat.
Much of the material consists of tree branches, leaf litter, reeds and other natural debris, including algae, seaweed and aquatic vegetation.
In Cardiff Bay, UK, a single Water Witch recovered a total of 850 tonnes of debris from the waters in a single year. An average of 10 skip-loads of waster was removed a week, ranging from logs, telegraph poles, cars, trolleys, car tyres, plastic bottles and general litter.
Not only unsightly, this debris is a potential hazard to boaters and waterway users - water intakes can be clogged up, propellers snagged and hulls damaged.
Increasing numbers of former docks, harbours and redundant industrial sites are being regenerated into prestigious waterfront housing and leisure developments. Floating rubbish, debris, flotsam and jetsam is unappealing, a potential health hazard and can influence the public's decision to live in, or visit, an area; it can have a major economic impact on the future of waterside developments. CLEAN WATER & WELL-MANAGED WATERSPACE is an essential requirement for large-scale regeneration of these areas.
Synthetic materials such as plastic are now the most common types of marine debris. Plastic persists in the water and doesn't readily degrade. Through weathering and mechanical action, plastic is broken into small particles that marine wildlife easily ingests. This process can take decades, so the amount of plastics, oftern referred to as micro-pollutants, are building up progressively in our marine environment.
An estimated 100 million tons of it already litters the oceans of the world. Another 60 billion tons of plastics will be produced globally this year alone. A particularly dense accumulation of debris can be found in a holding pattern 1,000 miles off the California coast, in an area known as the central North Pacific gyre, the calm core of a convergence of four major ocean currents rotating clockwise under a large high-pressure zone.
The buildup of plastics in the North Pacific is estimated to span 5 million square miles (equivalent of the area of the United States). Some of the debris is apparent and recognizable -- water bottles, lighters, toothbrushes, balloons, buoys - but over time, these objects break down into smaller and smaller plastic pieces until they become particulate and small enough to be ingested by fish and filter feeders. The larger pieces are mistakenly eaten by seabirds birds and turtles ? an estimated 100,000 marine mammals killed each year.
About 80% of the plastic debris in the oceans gets there from land. It washes from our beaches and streets and highways, through storm drains and sanitary discharge and into streams, rivers and waterways ? an ultimately into the ocean.
In addition to a number of initiatives to control the impact of plastics in the marine environment, which include banning plastic bags and better solid waste facilities at beaches and harbours, Water Witch can provide an efficient solution for the recovery of marine debris through a range of specialist workboats.