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Plastic Trash Vortex Menaces Pacific Sealife
Reuters ^ | November 06, 2006 | Deborah Zabarenko

Posted on 11/07/2006 2:20:00 AM PST by Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit

WASHINGTON — Old toothbrushes, beach toys and used condoms are part of a vast vortex of plastic trash in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, threatening sea creatures that get tangled in it, eat it or ride on it, a new report says.

Because plastic doesn't break down the way organic material does, ocean currents and tides have carried it thousands of miles to an area between Hawaii and the U.S. West Coast, according to the study by the international environmental group Greenpeace.

This swirling vortex, which can grow to be about the size of Texas, is not far from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, designated as a protected U.S. national monument in June by President Bush.

The Greenpeace report, "Plastic Debris in the World's Oceans" said at least 267 species -- including seabirds, turtles, seals, sea lions, whales and fish -- are known to have suffered from entanglement or ingestion of marine debris.

Some 80 percent of this debris comes from land and 20 percent from the oceans, the report said, with four main sources: tourism, sewage, fishing and waste from ships and boats.

The new report comes days after the journal Science projected that Earth's stocks of fish and seafood would collapse by 2048 if trends in overfishing and pollution continue.

Two weeks ago, the U.S. Institute of Medicine said the benefits of eating fish outweigh the risks of toxins detected in the animals.

STOMACHS FILLED WITH PLASTIC

Plastic pollution is a problem in all the world's oceans, the Greenpeace report said, but underlined the issue in the Pacific by sailing through the floating garbage dump and capturing images of wildlife interacting with plastic.

"It's not necessarily an area that's clearly defined; it's sort of a natural phenomenon ... wind and salt water break down the plastic," said Steve Smith, aboard the Greenpeace ship Esperanza.

The plastic trash, some in large pieces and others broken down to small but recognizable particles, is visible from the ship's deck, about 50 feet above the ocean surface, Smith said by telephone Friday. Inflatable boats are dispatched from the ship to collect samples.

"We've been been unfortunately finding a lot of stuff out here, floating by, which doesn't paint a very good picture, because some of it is from faraway places, has marine life like barnacles and other little creatures living on the plastic," Smith said.

By hitching rides on plastic debris, invasive species can be carried thousands of miles to interact with native creatures, Smith said. Plastic also poses a hazard to animals that mistake it for prey and eat it, he said.

"Plastics in the oceans act as a toxic sponge, soaking up a lot of the persistent pollutants out here," Smith said. "We've seen photos of albatrosses who eat this plastic ... Even though their stomachs are filled, they end up starving because there's no nutrients in there."

Discarded or lost fishing nets and traps can continue to catch fish when they are no longer in use, the report said.

The report said an international agreement known as MARPOL is aimed at ending the dumping of plastic debris at sea, but noted that since most debris originates on land, even total enforcement of this agreement would not eliminate the problem.

Greenpeace called for a global network of marine reserves, covering 40 percent of the world's oceans, and responsibility by coastal countries to cut down on "excessive consumption" and boost recycling.


TOPICS: Extended News; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; US: Hawaii
KEYWORDS: environment; pacificocean; plastic; trash
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Since it is Reuters it could be completely made up, but giving the benefit of the doubt this is the type of things that drives me nuts.

We are trashing our lovely planet and it seems like the wacky left is the only ones that want to do anything about it. Of course, they just want to use it as an excuse to take power, but there is no real action coming from the right on this type of thing and there should be.

As the article rightly mentions Bush (who has done more for the environment than Clinton/Gore ever did) recognizes the need to protect marine habitat. But shouldn't Christian groups also be protecting God's creation and promoting market mechanisms?

Or are the rapture nuts really that ones calling the shots?

1 posted on 11/07/2006 2:20:04 AM PST by Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit

"Rapture Nuts" huh? That should win you some support! lol


2 posted on 11/07/2006 2:24:36 AM PST by Uriah_lost (We've got enough youth, how about a "fountain of smart")
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit
Reuter's and Greenpeace aren't credible sources. The environmental wackos are the same ones selling the global warming crap. I don't buy the bullsh*t.
3 posted on 11/07/2006 2:27:27 AM PST by MisterRepublican
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit
Plastic Trash Vortex

I saw that and thought it was about Pelosi for a sec.

4 posted on 11/07/2006 2:29:09 AM PST by Cementjungle
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit

I thought that the big scare last week was that there was going to be no sea life left anyway in thirty years time.


5 posted on 11/07/2006 2:30:03 AM PST by Mrs Ivan (English, and damned proud of it.)
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit
.......responsibility by coastal countries to cut down on "excessive consumption".......

This line alone cast serious doubt on the whole piece......then there are your comments about Christian groups......

6 posted on 11/07/2006 2:34:58 AM PST by jimtorr
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To: jimtorr
"excessive consumption"

The exact words that came to mind when I saw this pic...

7 posted on 11/07/2006 2:48:33 AM PST by kanawa (Don't go where you're looking, look where you're going.)
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit

Pay attention! You really must learn to read these hit pieces. They always contain the seeds of their own destruction. Here are a few.
One - "A vast vortex the size of Texas." That is an area less than .01% of the world's oceans. Not significant.
Two - "Debris contains hitchhikers invading the seas." How can it be invading the seas when it is confined to a vortex? Is plastic the only vehicle they have for their invasion?
Three - "Plastics act as toxic sponges." This is bad how?
Four - "Plastic is consumed by 247 species." Does this include barnacles and algae?
Five - All plastics break down in a few months when subjected to sunlight and saltwater. This is not a cumulative problem.
Those are a few. Other freepers will find more and better. Try to avoid the chicken lickin (the sky is falling) crowd.


8 posted on 11/07/2006 2:58:26 AM PST by Louis Foxwell (Here come I, gravitas in tow.)
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To: MisterRepublican
The environmental wackos are the same ones selling the global warming crap. I don't buy the bullsh*t.

Take a look at a major US river after a good rainstorm upstream. The amount of plastic pop bottles alone is enough to make you sick.

We can do better.

9 posted on 11/07/2006 3:01:55 AM PST by vikzilla
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To: jimtorr

You mean that I think Christian groups should care about this? What is wrong with that. Seems sensible since God gave man this planet to care for.


10 posted on 11/07/2006 3:16:21 AM PST by Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit (War is Peace__Freedom is Slavery__Ignorance is Strength)
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To: Mrs Ivan

The reality on the "no fish left" front is that fish stocks do collapse if you overfish them.

Currently we are overfishing most fish stocks.

Ergo, if we keep overfishing them, they will collapse.

Plus, the market says, the more scarce something is the higher the price. If fish become scarce, the price goes up and the incentive to catch more goes up. Tragedy of the commons at its best.

Two possible solutions:

1. Massive government regulation and enforcement
2. Privatization

I will take the latter. And you?


11 posted on 11/07/2006 3:18:17 AM PST by Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit (War is Peace__Freedom is Slavery__Ignorance is Strength)
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit
Because plastic doesn't break down the way organic material does, ocean currents and tides have carried it thousands of miles to an area between Hawaii and the U.S. West Coast, according to the study by the international environmental group Greenpeace.

Wonder if Greenpeace took a shipload of plastic into the ocean so they could, ah, study it?

12 posted on 11/07/2006 3:32:05 AM PST by libertylover (If it's good and decent, you can be sure the Democrat Party leaders are against it.)
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit
If fish become scarce, the price goes up and the incentive to catch more goes up.

But also, the incentive to buy them goes down and it makes fish farming more viable.

13 posted on 11/07/2006 3:44:02 AM PST by Dan Evans
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To: Dan Evans

Fish farming is a way to get fish, but naturally you also realize that fish farming is merely a transfer of food (i.e. we grow grain and feed it to fish) rather than food production with nature provides for free like the oceans.

Since several billion people rely on fish for their protein, having to farm grain and then farm fish is much less efficient and intelligent use of resources than limiting "wild" fishing to a sustainable harvest.

Don't ya think?


14 posted on 11/07/2006 3:54:56 AM PST by Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit (War is Peace__Freedom is Slavery__Ignorance is Strength)
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit

I don't know about the plastic vortex, but I'm disgusted by all the plastic I find on beaches and other watersheds. Of course it's a hazard to wildlife. We need a rapidly biodegradable plastic and better disposal practices.


15 posted on 11/07/2006 4:30:15 AM PST by GVnana (Former Alias: GVgirl)
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit

If it's in one big pile, why doesn't someone start scooping it up?


16 posted on 11/07/2006 4:53:45 AM PST by wolfcreek (A personal attack is the reaction of an exhausted and/or disturbed mind.)
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit
Quick! Send for Godzilla to blast this vortex before this guy shows up!


17 posted on 11/07/2006 5:09:21 AM PST by LRS
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To: Amos the Prophet
Pay attention! You really must learn to read these hit pieces. One - "A vast vortex the size of Texas." That is an area less than .01% of the world's oceans. Not significant.

I suspect this vast vortex is about as real as the vast right wing conspiracy.

On another note, however, I hate looking at trash. I am disgusted by the trashier elements of our culture that think nothing of dropping their soda bottles and cans on the ground.

18 posted on 11/07/2006 5:13:36 AM PST by Drawsing (The fool shows his annoyance at once. The prudent man overlooks an insult. (Proverbs 12:16))
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To: LRS

I should have included a link for the song...

http://search.netscape.com/ns/boomframe.jsp?query=smog+monster&page=1&offset=0&result_url=redir%3Fsrc%3Dwebsearch%26requestId%3D15a20943ead03e0c%26clickedItemRank%3D1%26userQuery%3Dsmog%2Bmonster%26clickedItemURN%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.badmovies.org%252Fmovies%252Fgvssmog%252F%26invocationType%3D-%26fromPage%3DNSCPIndex%26amp%3BampTest%3D1&remove_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.badmovies.org%2Fmovies%2Fgvssmog%2F

(Hit "play the song")...


19 posted on 11/07/2006 5:16:56 AM PST by LRS
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To: kanawa

first time I've seen a picture of jabba the hut in a suit.


20 posted on 11/07/2006 5:19:57 AM PST by mrmargaritaville
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit
Somewhere between the envirowackos, and the damage-deniers is the truth.

I wish there was an easy way to figure out what it is.

21 posted on 11/07/2006 5:24:51 AM PST by Psycho_Bunny (`)
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To: wolfcreek
If it's in one big pile, why doesn't someone start scooping it up?

Think about harvesting an area the size of texas w9ith even the biggest of combines. Even if you used a spreading collection method, you can't really pull more than about a 200' wide swath at a time. It'd take a while, and a hell of a lot of fuel, too. The crew would probably generate as much trash at they are there to collect.

22 posted on 11/07/2006 5:30:13 AM PST by Toby06 (jon carry is a piece of s#it)
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To: Psycho_Bunny
Somewhere between the envirowackos, and the damage-deniers is the truth.

Exactly! I love saltwater fishing. It's amazing the amount of trash people leave behind, when it would really be no big deal to pack it back to the landing and dispose of it here.

23 posted on 11/07/2006 5:31:39 AM PST by Toby06 (jon carry is a piece of s#it)
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To: Toby06

And you propose doing nothing? Instead of gripping about this growing monster, they'd better get started figuring out how to deal with it.


Seems to me, they could use those long fishing nets to capture much more than the 200 ft. swaths you suggested.


24 posted on 11/07/2006 5:37:30 AM PST by wolfcreek (A personal attack is the reaction of an exhausted and/or disturbed mind.)
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To: Drawsing
On another note, however, I hate looking at trash. I am disgusted by the trashier elements of our culture that think nothing of dropping their soda bottles and cans on the ground.

we have what should be a wonderful park here in Lorain Ohio, but it is "wall to wall" spray painted graffiti over the rock formations and with litter in every square yard. the creeks banks are nothing but plastic bottle trash.

25 posted on 11/07/2006 5:41:25 AM PST by martin gibson ("I care not what course others may take, but as for myself, give me Ralph Stanley or give me death")
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To: wolfcreek
Seems to me, they could use those long fishing nets to capture much more than the 200 ft. swaths you suggested.

Yes, you could pull a wider swath, but the amount of power goes up exponentially. To get that power, you'd have to burn really massive amounts of fuel. Even if you double it, it would take a couple years to cover the field they describe for a single vessel.

With UV and saltwater exposure, the plastics break down in 5-8 months in most cases. Is it really worth it to catch the plastics? Then what do you do with them?

I am not saying that nothing should be done, but it would be better to keep the cow in the barn rather than chase it after it escapes. Source elimination of the problem is a better solution.

There are no easy answers here, even if greenpeace is telling the truth about the magnitude of he problem.

26 posted on 11/07/2006 5:45:31 AM PST by Toby06 (jon carry is a piece of s#it)
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit

"...boats are dispatched from the ship to collect samples."

Well, lemmesee...you sailed all the way out there to make a big stink about the mess...um...how about just picking up the trash and shut yer piehole. Fercryinoutloud.


27 posted on 11/07/2006 5:52:20 AM PST by woollyone (We are travelers between the eternities- by His grace, may your eternity future be filled with Him.)
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit
Well, the problem with overfishing is right here in your remarks:

Since several billion people rely on fish for their protein, having to farm grain and then farm fish is much less efficient and intelligent use of resources than limiting "wild" fishing to a sustainable harvest.

Several billion people can really run thru a hell of a lot of fish! Maybe it's time to wean them on to something else. Soylent green comes to mind!

28 posted on 11/07/2006 5:52:35 AM PST by Alas Babylon!
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To: Toby06
Source elimination of the problem is a better solution.


You're correct. My Wife and I enjoy canoing. We see an incredible amount of trash that ends up in the ocean. We try and do our part to collect what We see and never add to the problem but, there are many others who think our rivers and lakes are giant wastebaskets.


IMO, an international effort to clean up the mess now, isn't too far fetched. Fining the crap out of people who continue to pollute, might also be a solution.
29 posted on 11/07/2006 5:56:54 AM PST by wolfcreek (A personal attack is the reaction of an exhausted and/or disturbed mind.)
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To: Toby06

I think a crew of select FReepers on a 100 foot yacht should conduct a extensive survey.


30 posted on 11/07/2006 5:58:24 AM PST by Tijeras_Slim (Dancing through life like a street mime with tourettes syndrome.)
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To: MisterRepublican

Reuters and Greenpeace certainly aren't reputable sources but even a stopped clock is right twice a day. I've seen this myself. It's disgusting. It's true that animals get killed by eating plastic.


31 posted on 11/07/2006 6:01:29 AM PST by Fairview
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To: mrmargaritaville

We had some fun at Al's expense (or should that be expanse) over here...

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1732885/posts


32 posted on 11/07/2006 6:03:29 AM PST by kanawa (Don't go where you're looking, look where you're going.)
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To: kanawa



Obviously, FAT ALBERT is no stranger to the dinner table...and getting more familier every day.


33 posted on 11/07/2006 6:03:33 AM PST by GoldenPup
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit
Or are the rapture nuts really that ones calling the shots?

Hey Nazi, you lost all credibility right there.

34 posted on 11/07/2006 6:11:03 AM PST by subterfuge (Tolerance has become the greatest virtue, and hypocrisy the worst character defect.)
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To: Tijeras_Slim

I'll take fantail watch with my fishing poles & beer coolers. :)


35 posted on 11/07/2006 6:12:24 AM PST by Toby06 (jon carry is a piece of s#it)
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To: Alas Babylon!

Well the Europeans and Japanese are doing their part by reducing their population naturally. The US is only at stable population when you eliminate immigration. Better access to birth control might send the population into reverse.


The Chinese population will start to shrink once it peaks in a few years too.

It is just those Arabs and Africans who can't stop breeding it would seem.

Although I think I just baited a large number of people with that last comment, the reality of my statement is that the richer you get, the greater the likelihood that you population goes down. It also lowers resource use, but could theoretically make you richer per person.

At the end of the day 70 people using 100 units of resources have less per person than 40 people using 80 units even though resource use is lower.

The earth is a paradise with 2 billion people. It will be hell with 10.


36 posted on 11/07/2006 6:55:43 AM PST by Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit (War is Peace__Freedom is Slavery__Ignorance is Strength)
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To: subterfuge
Hey Nazi, you lost all credibility right there.

No, actually you did. On word 2.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law

What a maroon.

37 posted on 11/07/2006 7:11:34 AM PST by Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit (War is Peace__Freedom is Slavery__Ignorance is Strength)
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To: vikzilla
Take a look at a major US river after a good rainstorm upstream. The amount of plastic pop bottles alone is enough to make you sick. We can do better.

1) While I agree fully, when my dog ate some yellow balloons, guess what appeared in the back yard a day later?

2) Lake Winnipesaukee (NH) was filled with fully-potable drinking water in the 60s. Now the most frequent floating contaminant is empty "Poland Spring" water bottles! See any irony in that?

38 posted on 11/07/2006 7:17:40 AM PST by Eclectica (Ask your MD about Evolution. Please!)
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit

Didn't go to your link. I know all about it. This "rapture nut" will see you around the forum.


39 posted on 11/07/2006 7:24:09 AM PST by subterfuge (Tolerance has become the greatest virtue, and hypocrisy the worst character defect.)
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To: Amos the Prophet
You've got to read more. Your comments indicate a lack of knowledge about the subject.

NOAA SCIENTISTS BATTLE OCEAN GHOSTNETS

April 29, 2005 — Thousands of miles from any human habitation, fishing nets hundreds of meters long and balls of net tens of meters across, lost or abandoned by their former owners but still an environmental hazard, foul huge swaths of the Pacific Ocean. However, the sheer mass of those so-called ghostnets floating freely in waves has come as an unpleasant surprise to NOAA scientists studying the phenomenon. (Click NOAA image for larger view of turtle entangled in fishing net. Click here for high resolution version, which is a large file. Please credit “NOAA.”)

Concentrated in relatively small areas of ocean by winds and currents, ghostnets present a hazard to wildlife, entangling marine mammals, turtles and sea birds and a largely unseen form of environmental pollution.

Because the synthetic materials currently used in fishing nets decay extremely slowly, they can continue to drift for years. Many end up trapped on the coral reefs, where entanglement rates are even higher than in the open ocean and where they damage the fragile coral.

The nets not only damage the reefs, but are extremely costly and time-consuming to remove.

One strategy to prevent the reef damage is to develop a way to predict where in the open ocean the debris is likely to accumulate and from which clean-up is much easier.

NOAA scientists are using satellite and other technologies to predict area where current and winds combine to funnel and accumulate debris into what are called convergence zones. However, a recent field deployment to confirm that the satellites accurately predicted the existence of a possible convergence zone off Hawaii gave a first substantive look into the severity of the ghostnet problem in the open ocean.

According to James Churnside, a researcher with the NOAA Environmental Technology Laboratory in Boulder, Colo., the bottom line is that, “There is a lot more trash out there than I expected."

Using data from several satellites, scientists from the NOAA Satellite and Information Service and the NOAA Fisheries Service tracked the Pacific convergence zone through the winter. The data they collected were combined with more recent satellite data to determine the most likely areas to find aggregations of debris.

In late March and early April, Churnside headed a field survey of areas in the Pacific from a NOAA P-3 Orion Aircraft based in Honolulu. The survey was joint project of NOAA and Airborne Technologies, Inc. of Wasilla, Alaska.

Over three days, the plane overflew the convergence zone to allow scientists to make visual observations and to use an electronic imaging system with automated pattern recognition to determine how much and what kinds of debris had accumulated.

Churnside said that about 2,000 individual pieces of debris were seen. These included at least 100 that were identified as nets or pieces of net. A number were balls of net up to 10 meters (30 feet) across.

"One piece of driftnet that was still stretched out, and presumably still fishing, was 200-300 meters long," Churnside said.

Although surprised by just how much material was found in the convergence zone, Churnside said that a lot of analysis will need to be done to sort out whether convergence zones are more efficient at trapping debris than predicted or whether there simply is much more material floating free and available for capture than suspected.

"Those are the two possibilities, and we don't have data yet to pick one or the other," he said. Meanwhile, based on the success of the Orion flights, planning is underway to develop a cost-effective removal effort. There are also plans to use unmanned aerial vehicles instead of the larger Orion to identify and track the debris in the convergence zones. A pilot project for at-sea removal could begin as early as next year.

This year, NOAA has also undertaken efforts to re-establish a centralized marine debris capability within the agency. The NOAA Office of Response and Restoration is coordinating these efforts by working with Churnside and other NOAA scientists to bring together, strengthen and increase the visibility of activities related to the prevention, reduction and mitigation of debris in the marine environment. One area of focus will be coordinating activities that identify and reduce the impacts of sea-based sources of marine debris (i.e. fishing nets and derelict gear) on endangered, threatened or protected species, and sensitive habitats in United States waters.

High Seas Ghostnet Detection Project

Ghostnets -- Invisible Predators

40 posted on 11/07/2006 8:19:03 AM PST by cogitator
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To: Drawsing
I suspect this vast vortex is about as real as the vast right wing conspiracy.

No, it's real. See post 40.

41 posted on 11/07/2006 8:20:16 AM PST by cogitator
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To: Toby06
With UV and saltwater exposure, the plastics break down in 5-8 months in most cases. Is it really worth it to catch the plastics? Then what do you do with them?

See post 40. My searching also indicated that there are programs in coastal countries to pull fouled ghostnets on reefs and beaches.

42 posted on 11/07/2006 8:21:29 AM PST by cogitator
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To: wolfcreek
IMO, an international effort to clean up the mess now, isn't too far fetched. Fining the crap out of people who continue to pollute, might also be a solution.

I agree. I posted in a different thread about fisheries depletion that an international cooperative program is the only thing that would work successfully.

43 posted on 11/07/2006 8:22:47 AM PST by cogitator
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To: cogitator
My searching also indicated that there are programs in coastal countries to pull fouled ghostnets on reefs and beaches.

Tha's good, and the monofilament stuff does last a long ass time, just not on my reel, where it loses strength very quickly (2-3 months) and requires replacement.

However, As bad as a 300 meter drifting gillnet sounds, it sure doens't make up a significant portion of the ocean or it's fisheries. After a couple week, the net would become so fouled with organic matter (dead fish) that it would likely sink and no longer be much of a ouling hazard.

44 posted on 11/07/2006 8:29:13 AM PST by Toby06 (jon carry is a piece of s#it)
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit

All of the issues referenced in this article serve as basis for control and embargo of use of the world's largest natural resource; given that sort of motive, I am suspicious of the authors' conclusions and objectivity.


45 posted on 11/07/2006 8:29:23 AM PST by Old Professer (The critic writes with rapier pen, dips it twice, and writes again.)
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To: Mrs Ivan

41 years, 6 months and 12 days.


46 posted on 11/07/2006 8:30:31 AM PST by Old Professer (The critic writes with rapier pen, dips it twice, and writes again.)
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To: vikzilla

We didn't have that problem in the old days, glass bottles sink out of sight.


47 posted on 11/07/2006 8:32:37 AM PST by Old Professer (The critic writes with rapier pen, dips it twice, and writes again.)
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit

I don't care what you do with your cake, just don't tell me I can't eat mine.


48 posted on 11/07/2006 8:33:49 AM PST by Old Professer (The critic writes with rapier pen, dips it twice, and writes again.)
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit
Or are the rapture nuts really that ones calling the shots?

Figures that a freaking German would use a phrase like this.

49 posted on 11/07/2006 8:35:58 AM PST by Centurion2000 (If the Romans had nukes, Carthage would still be glowing.)
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To: Einigkeit_Recht_Freiheit

I don't like fish anyway.


50 posted on 11/07/2006 8:37:23 AM PST by ichabod1 (Vote Republican -- if only to hear The Squealing of the Rats.)
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