Sunday, January 22, 2012

Meeting Captain Charles Moore

I was so excited about meeting Captain Charles Moore that I had the car packed with our RE Sources display a day before the Sierra Club-sponsored book talk titled “Saving Our Oceans From Plastic.” Charles Moore is a scientist/activist whose work studying plastic has prompted a global reassessment of plastic’s invaseness in the ocean. His work has inspired me for years.

Half an hour before the start of the event, I had just covered the top of a table with my assortment of beach-collected disposable cigarette lighters and our display called A Sea of Plastic when I felt a tapping on my shoulder. I turned around and was face to face with a short, grinning man. Both of us were sporting the same necklace – made out of little bits of plastic! It was Charles Moore - and before he could say hello, I gave him a hug. Here we are with our necklaces:

Among lots of other things, I learned that in our own South Puget Sound inlets, there are 247 intertidal geoduck aquaculture farms. In these areas, the shellfish industry uses approximately 120,000 pieces of PVC plastic per acre. Plastic is also used for oyster bags and plastic canopy nets over manila clam beds. Many of these farms are located in the limited number of Designated Critical Salmon Habitat and/or Documented Forage Fish Spawning Habitat areas.

The South Sound geoduck aquaculture industry embeds approximately 8 miles of PVC pipe per acre, or up to 16 tons per acre of PVC. Here’s what one looks like, below.

PVC is hazardous stuff, containing lead, cadmium, and many additives, all environmentally hazardous. The tubes are exposed to sun, wind, waves, sand and rocks, which grinds down the material, releasing it into the water. Are the small plastic particles ending up in our food chain, like they are in the candlefish stomachs that Charles Moore described?

For more detailed information on the adverse impacts of geoduck aquaculture marine plastic pollution, visit the following link:

http://washington.sierraclub.org/tatoosh/Aquaculture/Sierra_Club_Plastic_Pollution-2[1].pdf

Check out Charles Moore’s new book Plastic Ocean. It's next on my reading list. And if you're curious about what kind of plastic ends up on our local beaches, join us for one of our regular beach cleanups.

Thanks for visiting us, Captain Moore…you’re an inspiration!


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