LÜBECK — The scourge of plastic litter in the oceans is measured in billions of floating tons of pollution, estimated to affect some 40% of the world's waterways. But a solution to this massive environmental problem may be coming from a small shipyard in Northern Germany, where an ingeniously designed catamaran is being built to collect litter from the open ocean waters.
German news agency DPA reports reports from the Lübeck Yacht Trave GmbH shipyard where the catamaran Seekuh ("Manatee") has been commissioned by the One Earth One Ocean association, with plans to start collecting drifting plastic litter this summer.
One Earth One Ocean CEO Günther Bonin and engineer Dirk Lindenau designed the movable nets that will be suspended between the Seekuh hulls to collect up to two tons of litter per journey. The catamaran will be powered by solar panels, allowing it to go as fast as two knots. The craft can also be dismantled into eight modules to be transported across the globe.
The prototype costs around 250,000 euros, with Bonin already planning to build more vessels like the Seekuh, if it proves to be successful.
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Building the Seekuh"s hulls in Lübeck — Photo: One Earth One Ocean
Stephan Lutter, Marine Protection expert at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), says rapid solutions such as the innovative catamaran design are needed, with estimates that up to 10 million tons of new plastic litter end up in the oceans every year. "It's a danger to birds and marine animals as some can get entangled in the plastic or mistake it for with food and swallow it," says Lutter.