Ocean garbage scoop study to start off Japan coast

By Miwa Suzuki, AFP

TOKYO–Researchers are launching tests aimed at setting up a huge floating barrier off the Japanese coast, a project that could eventually help remove some of the 5.25 trillion pieces of rubbish polluting the world’s oceans, officials said Thursday. If the study is a success, the southern island of Tsushima could be the venue for a pilot scheme that would pluck tonnes of plastic waste from the sea �X all without harming marine life. The Ocean Cleanup Foundation wants to install a moored platform and floating boom off the island next year if the tests, which begin this month, prove promising.

The system would span 2,000 meters, making it the longest floating structure ever deployed in the ocean, according to the Dutch foundation’s website. Most ocean clean-up efforts involve the use of boats sailing around trying to catch the plastic, thousands of tonnes of which have been dumped around the world. That method is both energy-intensive and time-consuming, whereas the Ocean Cleanup Foundation system relies on taking advantage of currents that carry rubbish along �X effectively waiting for the garbage to come to it. Since the system uses booms, not nets, marine life �X which is neutrally buoyant �X passes harmlessly underneath the barriers, while plastic �X which floats �X is gathered at the surface. Workers can then scoop up the collected detritus, with island authorities looking at using the plastic as an alternative energy source. Ocean garbage washing up on the shore has long been a problem for Tsushima, which sits between Kyushu and South Korea, costing millions of dollars a year to deal with. ��We are picking it up but no matter what we do, it keeps on coming,�� said Takahito Abiru, an environmental policy official in Tsushima.

��We are collecting garbage in fishing grounds, at tourist places, on beaches and elsewhere, but there are other areas that are not so easy to access,�� he told AFP.