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Expedition to increase knowledge on marine plastic pollution

A new scientific expedition aims to increase knowledge about plastic pollution in the North Sea and to share this knowledge with a wide public audience.

By the Ocean we Unite foundation set sail on 15 May from Rotterdam in The Netherlands to northeastern Scotland to conduct research.

The initiative follows a successful first expedition to Stavanger in Norway last August.

International cooperation

By the Ocean we Unite investigates plastics on the water surface, in beach sediments, in jellyfish and a common form of marine plankton.

The foundation's new research expedition is being undertaken in collaboration with Herriot-Watt University, the University of the Highlands and Islands, Leiden University, as well as The Ocean Cleanup and the 5 Gyres institute.

The expedition team includes three biologists who will carry out the studies. Photographer Jasper Doest and a Scottish filmmaker are accompanying the scientists, so that the findings can be communicated to the general public. There is also live coverage of the expedition through social media.

While visiting towns along the coast – including Inverness and Aberdeen – By the Ocean we Unite is visiting local initiatives and meeting with local people to discuss their experiences of plastic pollution in the environment, and to exchange ideas on how to tackle it.

“As marine plastic pollution is an issue that ignores borders, we will cooperate and unite across borders to come up with effective solutions,” said the foundation.

Real-time data

To support the project, the company ABB has installed a maritime digital application aboard the expedition vessel Fantastiko. This application is part of a suite of products designed to make operations at sea as safe and efficient as possible.

The Fantastiko will also have access to a weather routing programme from MeteoGroup, so that it can to select the optimum route during the voyage. The system enables By the Ocean we Unite to share its first research data from the North Sea through its website, enabling followers to track the ship and its research progress. To follow the team, go to