ABB supports group combating plastics pollution of oceans

Written by Nick Blenkey
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State of the art Marine Advisory System including SPOS Onboard weather routing software has been installed on the sailing yacht Fantastiko

AUGUST 1, 2017 — ABB is providing shipboard systems and expertise to support research voyages undertaken by a charitable organization whose mission is to highlight the damage done by the millions of tonnes of plastics that end up in the world’s oceans every year.

The group, called By the Ocean We Unite (BTOWU), has installed a state of the art Marine Advisory System including SPOS Onboard weather routing software from MeteoGroup, on the sailing yacht Fantastiko. The system will help crew route-plan and monitor weather conditions on a research voyage in waters off Rotterdam, the South of England, the Channel Islands, France and Belgium during August.

“Today, it is estimated that 23,000 kilos of plastics are dumped into the world’s oceans every single minute,” says Thomas van Thiel of By the Ocean we Unite. “These materials are fragmenting into ever smaller particles, damaging the marine environment and marine life, and entering the food chain. Plastics also act as sponges to other toxic chemicals already in the seas, concentrating areas of pollution. Removing plastics from the oceans is not currently feasible, but we must identify sources and effects because prevention is not only the better option, but cheaper than cleaning the oceans.”

During the 17-day voyage, the professional crew on board Fantastiko will work in support of scientists researching first-hand the sources of and impact made by plastic pollution in one of the busiest seaways in the world.

ABB is a campaign partner and sponsor, It also helping to publicize seagoing research by making voyage data available through its online Marine Fleet portal, which links to the BTOWU website. The BTOWU audience can follow the status of sailing expeditions, while the portal also hosts data that has been input manually covering the types of plastic particles that are being found. This function will go live in the coming months

ABB’s marine software offers a comprehensive product portfolio for performance management and decision support in marine operations, which leads to improved safety, workability and reduces fuel consumption and emissions by optimizing energy efficiency onboard a vessel.

“As a technology group, ABB is committed to technologies that are compatible with sustainability, but we are also delighted that our marine software is being used directly in the battle to protect the marine environment,” says Bart Cunnen, Vice President of the ABB Benelux Marine & Ports organization.

Bart Cunnen adds that the ABB’s support for BTOWU falls under its wider commitments to offering services that make a real impact on improving marine sustainability, which include “EE” energy efficiency training via the ABB Marine Academy.

“Marine Academy EE training creates awareness of the practicalities related to a sustainable vessels profile,” Mr. Cunnen says. “Participants leave equipped with the tools to make real life fuel savings, identify the origins of air pollution, explain IMO rules and activities related to energy efficiency and GHG control, and take the steps necessary to align with EEDI surveys and SEEMP.”

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