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Photo: Bluebird Marine Systems

Photo: Bluebird Marine Systems

Cleaning the oceans using solar-powered vessel

Is it possible that, in the future, our south coast shoreline and sea will be a vista of rubbish? A recent study produced by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the World Economic Forum states that by 2050 there will be more waste in the world’s oceans than fish. Having spent many years collecting discarded human-made debris from the local beaches, this is a topic close to my heart, writes HOT’s Zelly Restorick.

The amount of rubbish littering our shoreline seems to be never-ending. However many bags are filled for however many years, there’s always more the next time you return. And this is just a hint of what is happening elsewhere in the world. The sea and the beaches are our USP (unique selling point) – and it therefore surely makes sense that we take care of them.

According to a World Wildlife Fund study, marine life has declined by 39% since 1970. Predictions estimate that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish.


Undeterred by the immensity of the problem, Herstmonceux-based Bluebird Marine Systems (“We are proponents of sustainable technology, helping to keep the planet clean”) is developing SeaVax, a robotic solar-powered vessel designed to harvest plastic and other pollutants from the five garbage gyres in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans and recycle the waste into clean diesel fuel for shipping.

Currently, Bluebird Marine Systems have developed a demonstration vessel with the goal of creating a 44-metre (140-foot) prototype. Funding is needed to build and hone the prototype – and solutions need to be found for transporting the material to shore for processing. And a huge factor to consider is the ongoing amount of rubbish being created on a daily basis around the world and deposited into the oceans. Just like vacuuming at home, you clean up, but fairly quickly the job needs doing again. The task is monumental, but, according to those who retain hope and are determinedly seeking sustainable solutions, not impossible.

Photo: Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd

Photo: Bluebird Marine Systems Ltd

What can we do as individuals?

Use less. Recycle. Re-use. Buy less. Use less plastic. Dispose of things responsibly. Learn to be a thoughtful, respectful species as opposed to one that’s shitting on our own doorstep and systematically destroying the only home we currently have. Support the innovative and inspirational people and organisations who are seeking solutions.


For more information, check out Bluebird Marine Systems’ website here.

Interestingly, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation is involved with developing a ‘circular economy,’ “working with business, government and academia to build a framework for an economy that is restorative and regenerative by design.” George Osborne: there are alternative economic models. Will this be reflected in your budget for the coming financial year, I wonder?

An Avaaz fundraising request here.

SeaVax demonstration model

SeaVax demonstration model


Posted 11:21 Wednesday, Mar 9, 2016 In: Energy Wise

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