Whereas the Great Ocean can lick three layers of antifouling paint right of the bottom of your boat and deteriorate your huge zinc plates within a matter of months, her mighty forces are nothing against the permanent, inflexible strength of plastic. As much as I would like to see the ocean batter away at plastic like she does at everything else, it takes hundreds of years for her to get a winning edge of the stubborn stuff. In the meantime, plastics take their nasty toll, weakening the ocean and her inhabitants. The ocean’s taken several knockouts–images of the Pacific Garbage Patch, for example, are like a boxer bleeding profusely in the corner of a ring. BUT, the ocean’s a helluva fighter, and she can still resurrect.
The saddest thing is, the ocean shouldn’t have to be fighting plastics at all.
We, as boaters, are a far cry from being a passive audience in this fight: we are the ONLY ones in the position to start picking off plastics from the ocean’s back. ASA’s President, Cindy Shabes, was disgusted this morning that she gathered three plastic bags, a bucket, and some styrofoam on a brief afternoon sail this weekend–why is there that much garbage floating in the water? Sailors, use your boats to help win the ocean’s fight against plastics.
Here are a some excellent links about sailors doing just that. I hope they will inspire you to take your boxing gloves along next time you go sailing.
Sailors for the Sea: “What Any Sailor Can Do”
Plastiki: David Rothschild’s awareness-raising voyage in a plastic sailboat
The Rozalia Project: A “trash-hunting mothership”
Save Our Seas: “The Plastic Bag Man”