The goal of the SeaClear project is to develop autonomous underwater and surface vessels for mapping, classification and collection of marine waste. Hopefully in the future, robots will be cleaning our oceans continuously, but for now, periodic ocean clean-up actions performed by divers and manned vessels remain the only option. However, to test the efficiency of the autonomous vessels being developed through the project, a baseline must be used for comparison, making monitoring the efficiency of current ocean clean-up actions essential to the project.
In the challenging year of 2020, we are glad to report participation in two such clean-up actions performed at the two demo sites surrounding Dubrovnik, Croatia (Mali Ston bay and the island of Lokrum). The University of Dubrovnik (UNIDU) quantified the collected marine waste, but also classified different fractions by origin, composition and type. The obtained data gave a great overview of the marine litter composition at these demo sites, providing info to the engineers and programmers designing the SeaClear system. In the demonstration phase of the SeaClear project, which is planned for the 4th year of implementation, the developed system will be verified in these test sites along with the Hamburg port area, with the end user being the Dubrovnik-Neretva Regional agency DUNEA (Croatia) and the Hamburg Port Authority (Germany), respectively.
On July 11th 2020, UNIDU and DUNEA participated in a marine litter clean-up action in Mali Ston Bay. This event was organized by Dubrovnik Neretva County Public Institution for Nature Protection, as part of ECOSS project. The exact demo site was Brijesta bay on Pelješac peninsula. Aside from being a location with highly developed aquaculture production, this site also falls under the area of the largest ecological network in the world – European ecological network Natura 2000.
13 divers collected more than 225 kg of waste from the seafloor in a one-hour period from a transect size of approximately 4.600,00 m2. From the total waste amount, around 140 kg were rubber (6 car and truck tyres), but more than 70 glass fraction unit sizes from 3 cm2 to 30 cm2 were found. Around 90% of the collected waste was of marine origin.
On September 19th 2020, UNIDU and DUNEA participated in a marine litter clean-up action on Lokrum Island. This event was organized by Lokrum Public Institution, as part of the World clean-up day initiative. The exact demo site was Portoč bay – the main island arrival port facing the mainland. This site is a part of a highly protected area (reserve).
17 divers collected more than 88 kg of waste from the seafloor in a one-hour period from a transect size of approximately 9.900,00 m2. From the total waste amount, around 80 kg was plastic, with more than 615 plastic bottles in sizes from 0,25 L to 2,00 L. There were around 450 different plastic fraction units (plastic bottle pieces, plastic bottle caps and other fractions) in sizes from 1 cm2 to 50 cm2. 90% of the waste was of inland origin.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 871295.
The SEACLEAR project spans four years, running from January 1st, 2020 to December 31st, 2023.