Hong Kong: Shipping lines should pay a small token sum per cargo to help clean the seas, says the head of one of the world’s leading experts on the oceans. Doug Woodring is the co-founder of the Ocean Recovery Alliance (ORA), a non-profit organization focused on bringing innovative solutions, technology, collaborations and policy together to impact positive improvements for the health of the ocean.
Woodring proposes shipping lines should mull a donation of US$1 per container shipped – or five tons of bulk weight – to some of the programs that ORA, or others are working on, which in the end, will make the waters they use, easier and cleaner to work with.
Shipping is much more switched on these days to the plight of the world’s oceans, says Woodring.
“I believe they are a lot more aware and engaged than five years ago, but there is still a lot that can be done,” he says, adding: “Many are looking at carbon reductions, hull efficiencies, pollution reduction near ports, ballast water, and are also helping more with monitoring and science while at sea.”
Issues around marine pollution, and solid waste may not be a direct result of the larger carriers, Woodring says, but dumping at sea likely still happens with smaller carriers.
Another issue Woodring wants the maritime community to focus on is a harmonized way of collecting waste in ports, which is not too much of a financial burden to those removing their waste, for if it is, it sometimes gets dumped offshore before entering that port, defeating the purpose in the first place.
ORA continues to work on the two programs it announced at the Clinton Global Initiative three years ago which revolve around the global reduction of plastic waste. One is more B2B related, called the Plastic Disclosure Project, which is like that of carbon reporting. If you measure your use or plastic waste accumulation, it is then easier to do better things with it, so that it does not get to the environment at the end of the day. ORA is now working with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on this, as well as the World Bank.
“We know that plastic has great properties, and can reduce weight and energy use, but, it does not go away, and this long-term persistent impact is something that we need to get our heads around,” Woodring says. He led an expedition four years ago into the Pacific to highlight the plastic vortex that tends to cluster in the middle of the ocean.
ORA’s other program is called Global Alert, which will link the world’s rivers to the ocean using community reporting of trash hotspots along waterways and coasts. [12/11/13]