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Ship sets sail to study impact of plastic pollution on UK waters

A team of scientists and environmental campaigners have embarked on a 13-week voyage by boat to look at the impact of plastic pollution around the British Isles.

The project is a collaboration between plastic pollution campaigners City to Sea and research outfit Darwin 200. The partners say that the project is the first of its kind in the UK and they hope their research findings will reengage the public in the fight against climate change, in particular around the use of single-use plastics.

The voyage will take place on the Pelican of London, which is modelled on Darwin’s own HMS Beagle, and equipped with a floating laboratory to study a range of conservation and wildlife subjects.

The ship will take in some of the most remote and uninhabited of the 6,000 islands around the UK, culminating in a finish in London. The journey will include a stop in Glasgow, home of global environmental summit COP26, on 16 June, which coincides with environmental campaign World Refill Day.

Exploring such remote locations will allow the research team to better understand the scale of plastic waste in UK waters, and the types of plastics are most commonly found. The team also hopes the voyage will help them to better understand the impact of single-use personal protective equipment (PPE) on the environment, which has been widespread during the pandemic.

Parts of the journey will be broadcast live to schools during the day, as well as the wider British public via Twitter and Instagram.

Jo Morley, Head of Marketing & Campaigns at City to Sea, said:

As we start to emerge from the pandemic, we believe it’s more important than ever to get the issue of plastic pollution back on the agenda and connect people to our precious oceans.

We want to use this incredible opportunity, to take people on the voyage with us, connecting them to the amazing eco-systems, and precious marine life that calls the UK’s waters home.

Image by Stewart McPherson / City to Sea