Algalita Marine Research Institute
The organisation Algalita was founded in California in 1994 by Captain Charles Moore. Its original goal was to save kelp forests off the Californian coast. With Moore’s discovery of what is today known as the «Great Pacific Garbage Patch» in 1997 the focus changed radically. Today this independent non-profit foundation is devoted to researching plastic pollution and its damaging effects on the marine environment. Charles Moore defines the basic problem as follows: «The basis of the marine food chain is being replaced by an indigestible, non-nutritious material that by now exceeds natural nutrition in terms of weight and amount.»
The research initiative Expédition MED, which was launched in 2010, battles on behalf of biodiversity and clean water in the Mediterranean region. During research expeditions data are collected and evaluated in order to determine the level of pollution of the Mediterranean. This research work is accompanied by an extensive educational program. In addition the Expédition MED with its initiative «1 Million de clics pour sauver la Méditerranée» collects signatures for a petition to be submitted to the European Parliament. Among the demands are stricter directives for packaging and a comprehensive European educational campaign to deal with the problem of plastic waste.
The North American authority NOAA has developed into an important protagonist in questions of plastic pollution of the seas. The NOAA’s strategy plan focuses on the availability and quality of fresh water, the effects of extreme weather phenomena, population pressure on the coasts, accessing and management of marine and coastal resources, and, above all, the profound effects of climate change on society and the environment. Plastic garbage is an important theme in its marine debris program. In addition to research and publicity work NOAA also works on various projects such as the Marine Debris Tracker App that enables marine waste to be located and reported by GPS.
Founded in 1972 in Washington D.C. as the «Center for Environmental Education», this private not-profit organization is devoted above all to the protection of the seas. Themes include: clean waters, fish stocks, biodiversity and protected areas. Ocean Conservancy organizes the «International Coast Cleanup Day” that is held annually and in 2011 took place for the 25th time. Over 600‘000 volunteers from 114 countries removed 3‘945 tons of debris from beaches and shores. However, not only waste is collected but also standardized data about the amount and nature of the garbage. The data are evaluated and published in an annual report.
OceanCare has been working for the protection of marine mammals and oceans since 1989. With research and conservation projects, campaigns, environmental education as well as its contributions to a range of important international committees, OceanCare has undertaken concrete steps worldwide to improve the conditions of life in the world’s oceans. In 2011, OceanCare was granted Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations to provide expert advise on questions surrounding the protection of the marine environment.
The Geneva-based non-profit organization Oceaneye researches in the area of marine pollution caused by micro- and macro-plastic. During annual research expeditions in the Mediterranean or the South Atlantic data are collected, and evaluated in collaboration with the EPF Lausanne. The data obtained is used to demonstrate to decision-makers the need to take action. A further aim is to develop awareness of the problem among the general public.
The foundation Project AWARE unites a worldwide movement of scuba divers who are committed to the protection of the marine environment. Divers from over 180 nations are involved. The focal points of their program are the protection of threatened species of shark as well as the battle against debris in the sea. In contrast to many other clean-up initiatives the «Dives against Debris» organized by Project Aware are concentrated on the underwater world. The ultimate goal of these actions is to compile data and to incite action at political level.
Surfrider Foundation Europe
The Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit organization that is involved in the protection of the oceans, coastlines, and waves. Originally founded by surfers in Malibu (US), the European group was set up in 1990 in Biarritz (FR). Alongside educational campaigns and public relations work, the «Initiatives Océanes» form an important part of the program of the Surfrider Foundation Europe. Within this framework annual clean-ups are carried out on beaches and in seas throughout Europe. The individual actions are regionally organized. All those who want to can take part.
The environmental program of the United Nations (UNEP) involves itself in the protection of the seas through a variety of activities. Within the framework of the «Global Initiative on Marine Litter» attention is also focused on the problem of plastic waste in the seas. This initiative is directed by the coordination office of the Regional Seas Programmes and the Global Programme of Action (GPA). This collaboration has already resulted in numerous publications, cooperative undertakings and campaigns. For example UNEP was one of the organizers of the 5th International Marine Debris Conference. Additionally, strategies are being developed that can be adopted by regional protagonists. In June 2012 UNEP launched the Global Partnership on Marine Litter that aims to implement the Honolulu Strategy in cooperation with the key stakeholders.
This Californian NGO has set itself the goal of contributing to the reduction of plastic pollution until there is no more plastic in the oceans. Publications, video messages, website, blogs, lectures and schools and a traveling exhibition all aim at making the general public aware of this problem. Research expeditions are organized together with the partner organizations Pangaea Explorations and the Algalita Marine Research Foundation to achieve a better understanding of the nature and effects of the large concentrations of plastic in the five sea gyres and to develop approaches to a solution.