Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Rozalia Project Manifesto for a Clean Ocean

“Knowing is not enough,we must apply
willing is not enough,we must do.” 

We have all been bombarded with media stories of islands of trash the size of Texas floating in the Pacific and man-made toxins in the marine food web. We hear every week of new Tsunami debris washing ashore on the west coast of North America. These stories have been developed upon the valuable work of the scientific community discovering where, what and how much ocean pollutants exist in the marine environment.

The stories have struggled with hyperbole, there are no floating islands of trash, but the science research has been unerringly accurate in showing our seas as a chowder of ocean trash.

We have an environmental disaster on our hands that will reverberate through future generations if we do not cleanup. The cleanup is the sticky little pie. Many believe that ocean cleanup is an insurmountable task, a fools errand. Many people worry about the effects on marine life from unintended consequences of cleaning up our trash. Who is responsible? Who is going to pay for it? All valid questions, but they are questions that should not stop us taking action to find solutions.

Rozalia Project has been working hard to develop real world solutions to our ocean pollution problems. We believe we can have clean oceans and that success is going to take a multitude of methods. Rozalia Project is using a  multi-pronged, cohesive and comprehensive approach to clean our oceans.

Rozalia Project’s scientific research has led us to believe that the majority of ocean trash originates at the land/sea interface of our conurbations. The causes of trash ending up in the water are numerous and concentrated in these contiguous zones of human population. Inadequate number of, and overflowing trash cans, populations not taking on the personal responsibility to dispose of their trash responsibly, lack of physical screening on drains and storm water overflow pipes, lack of education as to the harmful effects of trash in the water and industrial pollution all are causes of ocean trash.  Rozalia Project has conducted a 2 year study of urban waters throughout North America, discovering concentrations of marine debris/trash of up to 282,000 pieces per km². The average concentrations in these urban watersheds rival and exceed that of ocean trash collecting zones in the center of our oceanic gyres.

Thus, it is Rozalia Project’s belief that our focus on cleanup should be at the land/sea interface, urban waters and at the convergence of currents in coastal waters where high densities of ocean trash have been transported directly from these conurbations on their way to the center of the great oceanic gyres.

Prevention: stopping trash getting into the water, and remediation: removing trash from the water and shores before it breaks down into micro size pieces, are the cornerstones of Rozalia Project’s belief that we can clean our oceans.

Here are the strategies and solutions that Rozalia Project is currently using to combat the problem of ocean pollution.

Rozalia Project is using existing technologies in new ways and developing new technologies to clean our oceans from the surface to the seafloor:

Baleen Basker - low bycatch marine debris net
The Baleen Basker is a prototype low bycatch marine debris net developed over the last 2 years by Rozalia Project. Low bycatch is imperative because catching volumes of plankton along with the trash would have a detrimental effect on our marine environment. The Baleen Basker was designed to exclude completely or allow organic plant and marine life to pass through the net, but capture any oil-based ocean trash such as microplastic, foam, etc. 

The Baleen Basker was bio-engineered to mimic the filter feeding abilities of baleen whales and the gill rakers of basking sharks. We are excited about the test results of our prototype, that, in phase 2 testing, has achieved up to 91% efficiency in removing microplastics from the water while excluding up to 48% of the organic matter.

This project is very exciting because of the ability to upsize to a Baleen Basker suitable for a commercial fishing trawler. The fishing industry has the skills to locate and capture fish in sufficient quantities to be economic. With the help of the Baleen Basker, these skills could readily transfer to fishing for trash in areas of coastal current convergence with high densities of ocean trash.

Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV)
Rozalia Project has pioneered the use of Videoray micro-ROVs to clean our seafloor of trash. The Videoray Pro4, equipped with BlueView imaging sonar and a manipulator, has proven very adept at removing beverage bottles, cups, cans, and food wrappers from the trash reefs found right off the wharfs of our urban harbors. The ability  of the ROV to work in low visibility or hazardous areas while removing trash at a rate of up to 30 pieces per hour has opened up the possibility of seafloor remediation in our urban waters, with little to no disturbance of sediment or marine life. This ultra low footprint and environmentally safe remediation has made the micro-ROV a perfect tool for the cleanup of the seafloor in our urban waters.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)
In 2014 Rozalia Project will conduct a ground-truthing survey of marine debris/ocean trash density and distribution along the coast of New England. Using UAV technology (remotely operated aerial vehicles), Rozalia Project will chart the amount and location of ocean trash on the shores and waters of New England.  By using this new data, coastal cleanups of shorelines and beaches can be focused on areas with the largest aggregation of trash. This will lead to more trash removed from our waters and shorelines, as well as production of an accurate coastal trash density distribution map. Further work with this technology will include the use of automatic recognition software to process aerial photography, allowing Rozalia Project to quickly produce accurate debris density maps for locations throughout North America and beyond.

Sailing Research Vessel (American Promise)
Rozalia Project’s 60ft sailing research vessel, American Promise, is one of the greenest research vessels in the world. With nonstop, round-the-world, record-setting sailing performance and a state-of-art Steyr propulsion engine, American Promise averaged a fuel consumption of 3 gallons per day for its 2013 expeditions. Standard 60ft scientific vessels use up to 150 gallons per day. American Promise is capable of extended ocean voyages without resupply for up to 6 scientists and interns with 3 crew. Our goal is to make her the worlds greenest ocean capable research vessel. Refit plans for 2014 include new standing rigging, solar panels, wind power and hydropower. These additions will reduce our fuel consumption to 2 gallons per day of operation.

High Resolution Ocean Trash Forecasting
Rozalia Project has been utilizing Tidetech high resolution current forecasts and sea surface temperature charts, in conjunction with GFS and Predictwind high resolution wind models, to predict areas of high density ocean trash accumulation. We are working on a micro scale and able to forecast 1 to 2 mile strips where debris will accumulate. 

The UAV program will document these accumulation zones and map organic matter versus ocean trash ratios in these specific areas. The end goal is being able to route fishing trawlers utilizing the Baleen Basker to areas that will allow them to remove the most ocean trash in the most economic manner.

Rozalia Project Ocean Pollution Fellowship Program (Guest Scientists berths available on every 2014 research expedition)
Rozalia Project is a firm believer in good science, but there is a worrying trend. Scientists do not get to spend enough time on the water studying the problems of ocean pollution. We have hosted graduate level marine scientists who have never been out on a research vessel before coming onboard American Promise. This affected us deeply here at Rozalia Project. Thus, we have made guest scientist spots available on board American Promise on every 2014 research expedition. These spots are available at zero cost to scientists so they may conduct their own research during our expeditions. Rozalia Project is very proud to promote and support the future of marine science.

Rozalia Project Undergraduate Intern Program
Rozalia Project has had 50 undergraduate interns since 2011 join us onboard American Promise to participate in our science research and cleanup expeditions. Several of our interns have gone on to jobs or internships at several prestigious environmental organizations such as the Ocean Conservancy and U. of Washington’s Joint Institute for the Study of Atmosphere and Ocean. We see our interns as holding the future of ocean science and as seeds that go back to their own communities to teach how important a clean ocean is for our future and grow new ocean stewards and scientists.

Rozalia Project has educated 47,000+ people of all ages about the effects and solutions to ocean trash through our in person education programs and our Expedition Reports/ virtual crew member programs over the last 4 years.

American Promise has been an integral part of the education program, with port stops featuring surface to seafloor cleanups and engaging education programs with over 75 education partners. These programs have been a great success, allowing participants to access cutting edge technology, and be part of the team applying this technology to clean our harbors. The ROV gives participants a connection to the marine world right under their feet, in their own harbor, a world most participants have never seen or experienced. Rozalia Project’s education program combines ocean clean up with giving our participants the building blocks to a career in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Rozalia Project believes the greatest way to modify behavior in a population is through education. Teach a child to understand, love and care for the marine environment, and that child will teach their own family to keep our oceans clean.

Rozalia Project, from inception to present, has removed 565,000+ pieces of ocean trash from the waters and shorelines of North America by leading a variety of our own and volunteer cleanups with the following featured partnerships and programs.
  • Rozalia Project led a FEMA funded back-to-work program for 41 unemployed workers to cleanup marine debris in the rivers, lakes and streams of Vermont after the destruction caused by Tropical Storm Irene.
  • Rozalia Project, in partnership with Maine Coast Heritage Trust, developed a program to clean several remote offshore islands in Maine. These island cleanups have generated great data on the composition of ocean trash in the Gulf of Maine, and inspired us to develop the UAV mapping program for 2014. Although the coast of Maine has few urban centers, it has one of the most concentrated and gear-intensive fisheries in the world, with up to 6.4 million lobster traps actively fished, and a similar amount of fishing gear used in adjacent Nova Scotia. The average loss of traps is 10-20% per year giving the Maine coast very high densities of derelict fishing gear. This fishing trash is severely affecting the marine environment. Rozalia Project is very active in this critical habitat, cleaning up and trying to find solutions to this industry-related ocean trash. The ability of American Promise to be self-contained for several weeks, allows a cleanup crew to work on these remote island for extended periods of time.

We need knowledge before we can act, thus Rozalia Project has implemented several scientific research projects to develop data from which we can produce solutions.

To date, American Promise has been the base for, or involved with, several research expeditions and projects:
  • Urban Waters Study-North America
  • Coastal marine debris density study based on areas of convergence 
  • Ingestion of microplastic by zooplankton, mollusks and worms, University of Exeter
  • Floating derelict fishing gear density study
  • Lake Champlain microdebris sediment study
  • Lobster cannibalism study, Noah Oppenheim, U. Maine
  • Side scan sonar survey of derelict fishing gear, NH/ME coast, Blue Ocean Society
  • Ground truthing derelict fishing gear/lobster traps, Gosport, Blue Ocean Society

American Promise will be available as a vessel of opportunity for any scientist or learning institution who wants to conduct scientific research on ocean pollution or climate change on the Gulf of Maine during our 2014 expeditions.

Rozalia Project is promoting several physical land based solutions to reduce the land to sea transport of trash.
  • Physical screening of storm drains to prevent trash washing into harbors during periods of heavy precipitation. 
  • Greater number of trash cans per mile at the land/sea interface of publicly accessible waterfront in urban areas. Overflowing trash cans are a major source of ocean trash.
  • Promote products such as Big Belly solar trash and recycling compactors that store more trash, prevent overflow and signal when full, saving municipalities money. 
  • Promote trash as an energy source through waste to energy power plants (if value of trash increases no one will throw it away). Sweden and Denmark have invested  heavily in waste to energy power production. Sweden is a net importer of trash and either recycles or puts 94% of their trash into waste to energy plants to make electricity.
  • Promote the idea of minimized packaging of products
  • Promote expanded recycling of single use products

James Lyne & Rachael Z. Miller
Co-founders Rozalia Project for a Clean Ocean
c.802 578 6135 James
c. 802 578 6120 RZM

1 comment:

  1. Amazing scope of work! Thank you for this informative blog entry, and for the chance to get a better sense of your program. One point of information - I think the maximum number of lobster traps fished in any given year in Maine is closer to 3.2 million -- no small number itself, but nowhere near as many as 6.4 million in terms of actively fished traps per annum. I can't speak for the Canadian fisheries, but you are right that Nova Scotia gear is adjacent to and even overlapping Maine's.

    No matter how you slice it, it's a lot of gear, and the Maine islands are filters, intercepting gear as it's lost and relocated by wave and storm action. Kudos to Rozalia and others, like the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation, Maine Island Trail Association, Audubon, and MCHT, for helping remove the derelict gear from island shores.

    Great post!