Norner supports and cooperates with S/Y Fairwinds on «Arctic Expedition 2018»
We can all contribute to fight marine littering
Norner supports and cooperate with S/Y Fairwinds on «Arctic Expedition 2018» sailing from the Bahamas to Bermuda - Nova Scotia – Newfoundland - Labrador – Greenland - Iceland and back to Norway. The Arctic Expedition will trawl for macro- and microplastics over a distance more than 5000 nautical miles.
The start of the expedition is in the North Atlantic Gyre, where high accumulation of plastic debris previously has been reported. Marine litter contamination in coastal waters and large stretches of Open Ocean has been investigated intensively, but there are still many blind spots. These are mostly open ocean and remote regions, where access is seasonally restricted and research is expensive and challenging, such as the Polar Regions. S/Y Fairwinds will therefore explore the Arctic waters, which is significantly less investigated, but also known to be contaminated by plastic pollution and microplastics.
The region is highly important for domestic and international fishing industry. We have recently seen investigations showing significant amounts of microplastics trapped inside the sea ice floating in the Arctic. It is therefore of high relevance to extend the fact base and knowledge of macro- and microplastics in the seas where the Gulfstream transports water into to the polar region.
S/Y Fairwinds is a 53 feet steel ketch, originally built for the German Naval Academy and offshore sailing. The owner and captain of Fairwinds is Fredrik Molin, who has been sailing full time on the oceans around the world the last 5 years. On board this expedition participates Simen Wingerei, who had his apprenticeship and Journeyman’s Certificate at Norner. He will be responsible for the trawling of macro and microplastics, which will be done systematically and after methods developed by the 5Gyres Institute. The collected samples will be analyzed by Norner after the expedition.
The main objective for Norner with this expedition is to improve the quality of documentation of marine littering and contribute to increased understanding, awareness, and how we can deal with the issue of pollution of plastics in our precious sea. Norner has cutting-edge knowledge within plastics and polymers and is highly engaged in serious issues of marine littering. Arctic Expedition is one of our actions to increase the effort and contribution to solve the challenges the world is facing due to plastics being resources astray.
Norner will have a special focus on plastic granules, also being called «nurdles» or «mairmaid’s tears», where pellet loss at plastic processing facilities currently only has been estimated.
The plastic pellets are small (3-4 mm, ~30 mg) and look similar to organisms that marine animals and birds are eating. If they are not passed through or repelled by the digestive system, they, like other litter items, may accumulate and cause malnutrition and starvation. While consumers are responsible for the proper disposal of used products, the plastics industry must ensure containment of the products it handles, namely the plastic pellets.
Operation Clean Sweep
Operation Clean Sweep® is an international programme designed to prevent the loss of plastic granules (pellets) during handling by the various entities in the plastics industry and their release into the aquatic environment. Today, not all plastic companies participate in the program. Results from the Arctic Expedition may encourage more companies to join. Norner wants to contribute to this increase in corporate stewardship.