Plastic Pollution - Sailors for the Sea

Plastic Pollution

 January 23, 2015  | By: Oceana

Round the world racing has become plagued by not being able to get away from mankind. No matter how many miles away from land you sail – plastic waste can be spotted at sea. Sailors from the Volvo Ocean Race are speaking up about what they are seeing and it is a great way to share information about this important ocean health issue. Currently the race is sailing from Abu Dhabi to Sanya, China. This route goes through the Malacca Stait, one of the busiest maritime passages in the world. The global problem of plastic pollution is magnified in this region and due to their proximity to land the plastic has not been broken down by sun and salt into tiny pieces, and is still easily spotted.  

In their own words…

“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.” – Bouwe Bekking, skipper of Team Brunel on Scuttlebutt Sailing News

“Basically, it’s a sea of rubbish. It’s quite sad actually. It’s quite an eye opener, I think they’ve had quite a lot of rain over there in Malaysia.” – Dave Swete, Team Alvimedica on

“The Malacca Strait is famous as one of the largest areas for shipping in the world—80% of the world’s oil travels through there. Aside from ships the size of islands (or Malaccamaxes) we have also been dodging an incredible amount of debris from plastic and Styrofoam to bedside tables and trees.” – Corinna Halloran, onboard reporter Team SCA on

“Cargos, fishing boats, branches, trees, trash, buoys, nets, plastic, shoes, sandals, wood, anchor, lines, chain, sails, sailing boats, carbon fiber, humans, racing, stress, wind, rain, sea, competition, shouting and waving hello…These are all part of the third leg from Abu Dhabi to Sanya. – Francisco Vignale, onboard reporter, MAPFRE on

What is the solution to all this plastic pollution?

Plastic is a wonderful material that is lightweight, durable – and made to last forever. So when we use a plastic item, say a fork that is only meant for one meal or approximately thirty minutes, we should recognize that even if it successfully makes it to the trashcan or recycling bin – it will be on this planet forever.


The best way to prevent plastic pollution is to refuse it! And it is easiest to start with items that are only used once. Whether it is a plastic bag, water bottle, fork, knife, cup or straw. Being prepared with reusable items makes it easy to just say no!

To learn more about the conundrum of plastic in our oceans, and the solution to preventing more, read our Ocean Watch article: Plastic Pollution and its Solution.