A pioneering sailing expedition starting and finishing at the University of Plymouth’s Marine Station will see a diverse group of women sample the UK’s waters for plastic pollution, and run awareness-raising events around the British coastline.
The voyage, being coordinated by Community Interest Company eXXpedition, will take 30 days and incorporate high-profile events in Plymouth, Cardiff, Belfast, Arran, Stornaway, Edinburgh and London.
The female crew members include scientists, students, artists, filmmakers, business women, psychologists, ocean activists and sustainability professionals, as well as experienced sailors.
eXXpedtion specialises in all-women sailing trips with a focus on highlighting the devastating impact single-use plastic is having on our planet’s oceans, ecosystems and on human health. It has run previous expeditions all over the world, and previous research has highlighted the endemic nature of microplastics within our ocean environments globally and the increasing potential impact they have on human health.
This summer will be the first time they will have a crew sampling in UK waters, and they will be sailing on board the 72ft challenge yacht Sea Dragon (owned by Pangaea Exploration). They will leave the Marine Station on the 7 August, completing their sail on the 5 September.
eXXpedition co-founder and ocean advocate Emily Penn said:
“After years of studying ocean plastics all over the globe I am so excited to be bringing this project home to the UK. The more time I spend at sea, the more I realise that the solutions start on land. We may be seeing the more obvious impact of plastic and toxic pollution in the more remote parts of our planet, but what is clear is that the pollution is coming from land – the UK included. We need to expose these issues and raise consciousness of the work to be done to solve them here in the UK.”
The University of Plymouth is renowned as a world leader in marine litter research, while its Marine Institute is home to around 3,000 academics and students working in areas including marine conservation, coastal science, marine policy and maritime business.
Professor Richard Thompson, Head of the International Marine Litter Research Unit at the University, added:
“The government’s inquiry into microplastics last year brought the threats posed by marine litter to wider public attention. But there is still a great deal of work needed to understand the full scale of the problem, while identifying potential solutions that take both economic and environmental factors into account. We are currently involved in research and collaborations that seek to meet those goals, and this scientific voyage can certainly make a positive contribution to that work.”
eXXpedition are crowdfunding for outreach activities at ports visited at http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/exxpedition-round-britain. All sailing costs are covered by crew contributions.