New record set for world's largest ocean clean-up

New record set for world's largest ocean clean-up

By Laura Chalk  July 1st, 2020

A dedicated clean-up crew from Hawaii has set a new record for the largest ocean clean-up event in history.


A dedicated clean-up crew from Hawaii has set a new record for the largest ocean clean-up event in history.

A total of 103 tonnes of fishing nets, debris and consumer plastics were successfully hauled out of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch last week by the Ocean Voyages Institute (OVI). The team spent 48 days on the open seas in the north-central Pacific Ocean collecting masses of plastic rubbish, overwhelmingly comprising of discarded fishing nets.

“I am so proud of our hard working crew,” said OVI founder and executive director Mary Crowley in a statement.

“We exceeded our goal of capturing more than 100 tons of toxic consumer plastics and derelict ‘ghost’ nets—and in these challenging times, we are continuing to help restore the health of our ocean, which influences our own health and the health of the planet.”

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is twice the size of Texas but despite this scale it’s not easy to find and gather all the debris. The team from OVI have relied on technology to help them with GPS trackers were placed on nets by crowd-sourced volunteer yachts and commercial vessels before being found and retrieved by the team. The huge plastic haul now has a new life on land with the nets being recycled and repurposed and the OVI team is committed to have none of the collection end up in landfill or ever returned to the ocean.

Whilst clean-ups like this one show visually the extent of the marine plastic pollution problem, they are not going to be solely responsible for addressing this issue. The OVI team identifies three areas to be focused on: changing the habits of consumers and producers to create less waste, improvements to waste management and infrastructure and undertaking mass clean-ups.

The OVI team have already set sail for their next ocean clean-up in the pacific. The length of their voyages are determined by donations and fundraising

“Our goal is to have another 3-4 boats working next year—all bringing in large cargos of debris,” said Crowley. “We have vessels wanting to help clean up, so right now we can begin to make a big change, because our solutions are scalable.”


Positive Action

  • Join a local beach or river clean up group in your area. We can’t all be out on boats collecting plastics in the ocean, but we can do our bit to ensure we dispose of the stuff that washes up on our shores responsibly. 
  • If you enjoy seafood, make sure you know where it comes from and how it is caught. Greenpeace have a great sustainable tuna guide and there is plenty of information online about how to avoid mass caught seafood, which uses the giant nets that are often discarded.
  • Support the Ocean Voyages Institute by donating here.


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Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.


By Laura Chalk

Laura joined Planet Ark in 2016. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience having travelled the world and a background in teaching English as a second language among other things.

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