The great Pacific garbage patch is a floating dump of ocean pollution spanning 1.6 million square kilometres | Source: Yachting World

Pollution App Eyesea Has Big Plans to Help Save Our Oceans

Ghost nets are discarded fishing nets that cause massive problems for shipping companies as well as harming marine wildlife who get caught in them and die. But global pollution mapping app Eyesea is the latest weapon in the fight to save the world’s oceans from the harmful practice of littering.

A shocking 14 million tons of plastic waste, one of the most harmful and least biodegradable forms of pollution, is dumped into the ocean every year. You may have heard of the great pacific garbage patch, a 1.6 million square kilometre floating rubbish dump in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

There are organisations such as Dutch based nonprofit organisation The Ocean Cleanup that are trying to solve the problems caused by the accumulation of rubbish in the worlds oceans. While the great Pacific Garbage Patch is the most well known, there are actually five large accumulations of ocean litter in all the oceans. These patches are called gyres and are formed by the ocean currents and weather. There are two in the Pacific, two in the Atlantic and one in the Indian Ocean.

Apart from greenhouse gas emissions and seabed destruction, the dumping of rubbish, particularly plastic, is one of the most harmful ways humanity is slowly destroying the oceans. According to Deloitte, the yearly economic costs due to marine plastic pollution are estimated to be between A$8 billion and A$27 billion.

Hope for the future of the planet’s oceans and waterways comes in the form of an app called Eyesea. The nonprofit organisation was launched in December 2020, and has started its long mission to clean up the world’s oceans by gaining traction in the shipping industry, where insurance companies are very interested in reducing the risk of ghost nets getting tangled in massive container ship and oil tanker propellors.

When these discarded fishing nets, some of them kilometres long, end up wrapping around a ship’s propellor the potential damage to the stricken vessel through collision with other vessels in crowded shipping lanes or even running aground or colliding with an underwater obstacle is massive, and insurance companies have a vested interest in avoiding the disruptive event.

The app allows users to geotag areas of litter in the oceans and on the beaches, they take a picture of the pollution and other users of the app can see where the pollution is, collect it and mark it as having been recovered. Nonprofit organisation Eyesea has partnered with shipping organisations, seafarers and more recently, the recreational yachting industry to increase its user base.

In January this year, Ocean Nova, which is ice classed and operates near New Zealand was the first cruise ship to start using the Eyesea app. One of its operators, Adventure Shipping says the industry has been waiting for a clean up initiative that takes advantage of the uniqueness of expedition cruising.

We’re very pleased to be leading the way on an environmental issue that is so important to everyone who sails – both crew and passengers. The case for Eyesea is compelling, very few people have access to the parts of the world we visit, and any data we can collect is of critical importance. With Ocean Nova’s ice class, manoeuvrability, and highly experienced crew, she is often in waters rarely seen by other ships.  We think we can help.

Richard Del Valle, President of Adventure Shipping

Fraser yacht brokers have become the first yachting industry partners of the Eyesea organisation. Their CEO, Raphael Sauleau is an Eyesea ambassador.

We will only overcome the greatest of challenges by working with each other and taking tangible actions (however small) to make a real difference. There is an increasing feeling, backed by scientific evidence, that we are approaching a critical point in ocean care. Everyone I know in the maritime business wants to do more, but the way forward has been difficult to define. Sustainability reports won’t save the oceans, but I hope pictures and maps might.

Raphael Sauleau, Eyesea ambassador and Fraser Yachts CEO

German apparel manufacturer GOT BAG have just joined companies such as German shipping firm Hamburger-Lloyd and Norwegian firm MPC Containerships in becoming a foundation member of the organisation. A network of 2,500 fishermen and people in Indonesia collect plastic and create pellets and GOT BAG then uses this material to make backpacks and other bags.

Each bag uses up to five kilograms of ocean plastic and GOT BAG is the first non-shipping company to join the organisation. Eyesea founder Graeme Somerville-Ryan said he is very excited to have the apparel firm onboard, saying the partnership will help Eyesea work out what to do with the data collected and that GOT BAG brought with them a deep understanding of clean up management, consumer outreach, recycling, and the circular economy. 

Earlier this month maritime businesses around the world celebrated World Oceans Day. The initiative saw thousands of volunteers across the globe volunteer their time to clean up beaches and oceans, assisted by the Eyesea app.

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