Disturbing amounts of pollution in Asia

Published on January 20th, 2015

Bouwe Bekking, skipper of Team Brunel, is not impressed with what he has seen in Asian waters. His focus is the amount of garbage witnessed during the Volvo Ocean Race leg from Abu Dhabi to Sanya. Here he reports…

When sailing along the Indian coast, there was so much plastic in the water that I started counting in several intervals of 10 minutes, for a duration of four hours (to get a good average), the amount of plastic what I could see floating by.

A scary result was the outcome. Every 37 seconds I saw a piece floating by, either big or small, but I cannot imagine what the outcome would be if I could see all the smaller pieces too. Plus I am only able to see 50 meters to windward side of the boat, so my survey is only covering a tiny bit of the ocean. I am not a scientist or researcher, but the total weight of this rubbish floating around in this part of the world must be enormous.

But now that we are sailing in the Malacca Strait, I unfortunately have to report that the Indian rubbish record has been broken by this “famous” Strait.

There is just trash floating everywhere. It’s like sailing in a big soup of styrofoam, plastic bags, bottles, condoms (yes, also plenty of these), and other things. And then there are all the other things we can’t see, like human feces and the millions of bacteria.

The water maker is doing its job, making fresh-tasting water, but what about the bacteria? I am actually seriously thinking about not drinking until we sail past Singapore and come again in the open ocean. For sure I won’t be washing up in the salt water for this period of time. Why take the risk?

That’s why it’s great that there are environmental projects like the Rozalia project, trying to fight this pollution and make the public aware of this problem. They are “fishing” garbage on the sea and collecting rubbish from the beaches. It is still a relatively small project, but this kind of initiatives doesn’t survive without public support, so please help them.

Or if you have the will power, start something up in your own country, even when if it’s just helping cleaning up a small river, as most rivers end up in the ocean.

I think about how all this rubbish impacts the sea life, and how this will have a negative effect on the human being in the long run; we won’t be able to consume, risk free, fish anymore.

Politicians always make a lot of promises, but in the end we know what the outcome is. Isn’t it why we call it politics? So let us all put our shoulders under this growing worldwide issue.

A simple start can be: you see thrash on the street, pick it up and throw it in a trash bin.


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