‘Expedition’ crew spreads awareness of protecting oceans from plastics

‘Expedition’ crew spreads awareness  of protecting oceans from plastics

Scientist Marion Hingant (left) and Captain Patrick Deixonne in the lab of the “Expedition” schooner. (Robert Luckock photos)

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Information stands were set up on the shoreline next to Marina Fort Louis.

 Image preview The 26-metre “7th Continent Expedition” schooner visited Marina Fort Louis on May 6 and 7.

MARIGOT--Explorer Patrick Deixonne and his crew of schooner 7th Continent Expedition were at Fort Louis Marina, Marigot, May 6-7 to raise awareness among the public of the urgent need to preserve the oceans and to stress the importance of sorting waste, the first barrier against marine pollution.

The name “7th Continent” comes from areas in the world’s oceans where there is a particularly high concentration of plastics driven together by currents, effectively forming their own continents.

This was the sixth educational tour and the very first edition in the Antilles-Guyana region. Launched on March 1, the crew already made stops in French Guiana, Martinique and Guadeloupe with its travelling exhibition.

The educational tour is named “Protecting the Ocean is a Learning Experience” organised by 7th Continent Expedition Association and CITEO, a company created 30 years ago with a mission to educate consumer goods and distribution companies on reducing the environmental impact of their packaging and papers by developing solutions to reduce, reuse, sort and recycle.

Information stands were set up on the shoreline next to the marina and visitors could go on board the 26-metre oceanographic schooner, effectively a floating science laboratory. The public could observe under a microscope plastic micro-particles recovered during the expeditions, to understand the problem of plastics in the oceans.

Aside from the schooner’s crew of six and captain and explorer Patrick Deixonne, there is one scientist on board, Marion Hingant.

“We are finding more plastics in the ocean than ever before,” said Hingant, adding that the expedition will next cross the Atlantic on May 17 to take samples of plastics and analyse them in the lab.

According to scientists, in 20 years from now, if nothing is done at the political level and in terms of individual behaviour, these continents of waste (the Pacific is about seven times the size of France) will cover an area much larger than Europe. Plastics contain heavy metals and other pollutants that have irreparable impacts on ecosystems and are ingested by fish and marine mammals.

The Collectivité and its Environment Department also had a stand to provide information on the existing and ongoing selective sorting systems in the territory, designed as part of the environmental policy.

Second Vice President of the Collectivité in charge of the living environment Bernadette Davis said the visit of 7th Continent Expedition was too good an opportunity not to miss.

“We were here today to really impress on the population how important it is to preserve our

environment, especially as we are an island surrounded by water and we are saying zero tolerance in terms of what we throw into the sea,” said Davis. “It’s amazing to think that the sea might look clear, but it’s full of invisible micro-particles and bacteria.”

She reminded that the Collectivité is launching a recycling programme with the three-colour sorting bins on May 22 in Robert Weinum Lycée.

The visit of 7th Continent Expedition was supported by the Collectivité and the Port Authority, which also manages Fort Louis Marina.

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