The Ocean Cleanup has published new research in the journal Scientific Reports showing that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) is largely composed of fishing-related plastic waste, with 75% to 86% of all plastic waste in the GPGP identified as coming from offshore fishing activity.
Analysis of over 6,000 plastic objects also found that major industrialized fishing nations (including the United States, China, Japan and Korea) are the principal producers of the fishing waste found in the GPGP, an area three times the size of France and the world’s largest accumulation of floating ocean plastic.
At a global level, emissions from rivers remain by far the largest source of plastic pollution into the oceans. However, specifically for the GPGP, this is not the case, and this confirms that the GPGP requires an approach not only involving cleanup and interception; this ‘other source’ of GPGP pollution – i.e., plastic originating from fishing activities – must also be tackled.
The Ocean Cleanup conducted the research on plastic objects and fragments captured in the GPGP during cleaning operations of its System 001/B solution in 2019. Researchers painstakingly investigated the origins, sources and ages of these objects to create the most comprehensive picture of GPGP plastic so far presented, building on The Ocean Cleanup’s previous research, conducted in 2018.