Nestled on the southwest coast of England, Plymouth Sound is beloved for its beauty and its maritime heritage. The natural amphitheatre serves as the perfect racetrack for the Grand Prix, so the return of the F50 catamarans for Season 3 was almost expected. As a purpose-based sport, taking better care of the ocean is something that Sail GP is always eager to promote, and with the ocean playing such an important role in Plymouth, it’s unsurprising that there is keen local focus on its health.
It’s widely understood that marine litter is a massive global environmental issue that can have deadly consequences for the living creatures that call the ocean home – as well as negatively affecting our economies and our health. More than 700 species are impacted by the growing amount of litter in our oceans, and this includes commercially valuable fish and shellfish. Most of the ocean litter is plastic – in fact, it’s estimated that up to 12 million tons of plastic litter enters the ocean ever year! So it’s clear that action needs to be taken – urgently and globally. This is something that the University of Plymouth’s Marine and Sustainable Earth Institutes is very focused understanding better, as well as using a whole-system approach to effectively address climate change. Using evidence-based research across disciplines, the researchers at the University investigate local environmental priorities in parallel with national and international goals. And the results from this research is used to instigate global action. Playing a vital part in this research is the International Marine Litter Research Unit.
Microplastics – first discovered by a team based in Plymouth
Professor Richard Thompson OBE is the director of the Marine Institute at the University of Plymouth. In 2004, he and his team prepared the first scientific paper that described how microplastic particles have been amassing in the oceans since the 1960s, and further research and additional papers documented that they are accumulating in large quantities in far flung locations such as the Arctic and the deep sea, and that are ingested by commercially important fish – that ultimately end up in our bellies!
The International Marine Litter Research Unit’s pioneering research in the field of microplastics has guided industry, education, awareness campaigns and provided evidence for government all around the world and international organisations such as the United Nations.
The One Ocean Foundation
Backed by an independent scientific committee and working with a range of institutions, research centres and universities, the One Ocean Foundation aims to accelerate solutions to ocean issues. As a leader in ocean advocacy, the One Ocean Foundation studies marine data and reaches out to companies and leaders to create more accountability. With their One Ocean Disclosure Initiative, a science-based framework and methodology, they are investigating the role of companies across all industries in addressing ocean challenges, focusing on the pressures – direct and indirect – on marine ecosystems, the level of awareness in the business community, and the main (technological and organisational) response.