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On January 3rd, 60 Minutes released their story entitled “The Plastic Plague.” The episode (which can be seen in the video above) focused on the growing amounts of discarded plastics that are accumulating in large patches in our oceans. The story focuses on Boyan Slat, a 24 year-old Dutchman who created a device that he thinks can help clean up our world’s oceans. Last fall, Slat towed his device out to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the largest of the 5 plastic patches that have accumulated in our world’s oceans, with goals of removing half of the plastic from the patch in 5 years.
Unfortunately, since its deployment, the device has not be collecting plastic like Slat planned. Now, two and a half months after its launch, it was announced the device needs to be towed back to port in San Francisco for repairs. While critics have been quick to point out the setbacks in Slat’s device, he is still bringing with him to port 2.2 tons of plastic that has been removed from the Pacific Ocean. When back in port, Slat has various upgrades and repairs he plans to make to the device to improve its collection rate.
There is a definite correlation between the health of our oceans and the fisheries they can support. That is why we enjoy following Slat’s mission and hope that he can continue to remove plastic from the oceans. As with most environmental problems, multiple issues need to be addressed to eliminate plastic from our oceans for good. Removing the debris is a start but eventually we will need to stop the plastic from entering the ocean at the source. Recycling our plastic is better than doing nothing but remember it is far more important to reuse and reduce our plastic consumption than to just recycle. To read more about Slat’s device and the current status of the project, click here.
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