Publication Date

2019-11-18

Availability

Open access

Embargo Period

2019-11-18

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Marine Ecosystems and Society (Marine)

Date of Defense

2019-07-29

First Committee Member

David Die

Second Committee Member

Jill Richardson

Third Committee Member

Gregory Hammann

Fourth Committee Member

Francesco Ferrari

Abstract

Plastic pollution is a persistent transboundary problem in the open ocean. The largest accumulation zone of pelagic plastics is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP), located in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. The Ocean Cleanup is a non-profit dedicated to removing pelagic plastics using a barrier system designed to passively collect plastic in the GPGP. This study presents acoustic monitoring of the biological impact of The Ocean Cleanup’s barrier system during its trial in the GPGP between 22 October and 29 December 2018. The acoustic monitoring was conducted using commercially available echosounders to monitor fish biomass presence and absence. It was found that The Ocean Cleanup’s system behaved similar to a fish aggregating device as compared with the rest of the GPGP. In addition to the acoustic study, a literature review was conducted to determine the likely sources of abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear to the GPGP, as a recent study had determined that approximately 46% of the garbage in the patch is related to fishing activities (Lebreton et al., 2018). Purse seine and trawl fisheries were deemed likely sources of abandoned, lost, or otherwise discarded fishing gear. This study concluded that further research is necessary in order to further understand the ecological impacts of the planned installation of multiple systems.

Keywords

marine debris; fish aggregating device; acoustics; the ocean cleanup; great pacific garbage patch; north pacific subtropical gyre

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