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November 2019    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 34, No. 11   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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How You Can Purge Plastic from the Ocean

from the November, 2019 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Worrying about those plastic straws polluting the ocean? You need to think bigger than that. While straws produce perhaps 0.03 percent of the plastic pollution, says Nadia Aly at, a whopping 46 percent is discarded fishing gear. The biggest problem: ghost fishing nets, which trap animals long after they've been consigned to the deep.

But this is where we divers can help -- by starting or joining efforts to get them out of the water.

Take the example of diver Harry Chan, 66, from Hong Kong, who regularly teams up with helpers to hunt down the ghost fishing nets that collect in the local waters. Chan's team has recovered more than 176,000 pounds of discarded fishing nets in 150 cleanup dives. That's an astronomical number for such a tiny area, suggesting hundreds of millions of pounds of ghost fishing nets worldwide....

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