Capt Charlie Moore, discoverer of Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Alga;ita Capt Moore and Katie Allen with Maui's Ark Founder Stephen Harris

I met Capt Charlie Moore, the self-described "Ambassador for Pacific Garbage Patches," at the HQ of Algalita Ocean Marine Research and Education, Long Beach California, on 18 July 2017. Also pictured are Algalita's Executive Director, Katie Allen, and me (left). Capt Moore, Algalita's founder, 'discovered' the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, or Gyre, in August 1997, off the coast of California. He returned recently from charting another gyre, off the coast of Chile. He said the large objects his team found most of were polyethylene fish bins marked as coming from New Zealand. Moore's key message is that the best way of preventing the environmental threat caused by the huge ocean gyres - massive eddies of plastic waste bigger than most countries - is to capture the plastic before it makes its way out to the coast. Booms across river mouths are effective, but once it gets out to sea it is very difficult to manage, as sealife clings to the plastic debris. Moore warns that the health danger of microplastics in the food chain is only just starting to be understood, whereas the production of poisonous dioxins from burning plastics - such as in waste to energy processes - is well known but conveniently overlooked by policymakers.

Stephen HarrisComment