Every minute, about 15 tons of plastic end up in the ocean. If this trend of marine plastic pollution continues, by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the sea. This is a matter of great concern for the maritime industry. The aim of the new collaboration is to obtain information about the type of plastic found in various marine areas, and the composition and origin of the plastic. The project will also provide increased knowledge of how plastic is spread and the consequences for the marine environment. The Institute of Marine Research will plan the data sampling, and be responsible for handling and analysing the collected data.
"Sensors on ships give us access to data from huge ocean areas and over long distances," says Sissel Rogne, Managing Director of the Institute of Marine Research. "This will increase our knowledge of microplastics, how they spread and the environmental consequences of this pollution," she adds.
KONGSBERG is a world leader in the development of underwater sensors and technology, and will be responsible for developing and assembling sensor technology for the project.
"The first goal is to build several sensors that we can mount on vessels. We have developed a 'Ferry Box' system that autonomously collects water samples that provide a variety of environmental parameters, including plastic content in the ocean. This data will give us important information for understanding how garbage impacts the seas, and serve as a basis to determine which measures should be taken," says Geir Håøy, CEO of KONGSBERG. Initially, up to five ships from shipowner Torvald Klaveness will be equipped with sensors. The ships will be in regular trade while the samples are taken.
"Our company is built on experimentation and developing new technology to solve problems in our industry. This project goes straight to the core of what we do and illustrates how shipping can help to find good solutions to a major environmental problem," says Torvald Klaveness CEO Lasse Kristoffersen.
The Norwegian Shipowners' Association is heading up the project, and believes that cross-sector cooperation is important to finding solutions to the problems caused by marine garbage.
"Norway is a world leader in maritime expertise and technology. We will now use that knowledge to obtain more information about the sea and the state of its health. Plastic in the ocean is a major environmental problem, and it is crucial that we find a solution. We are therefore proud that the industry will use its expertise to develop technology to map and record the extent of plastic in the ocean," says CEO of the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association Harald Solberg