Enhancing Marine Conservation through Technology
Each year, hundreds of millions of marine animals become tangled in plastic debris, which restricts their movement and food intake, as well as leading to injuries and diseases. Less obvious is the destruction caused by plastic consumption: because some plastic debris has an identical appearance to their prey, seabirds, turtles, fish, and whales frequently confuse it for food. Additionally, floating plastic develops bacteria and algae on its surface, giving it an odour that attracts some marine life. Ingesting plastic and the dangerous chemicals that go along with it can puncture internal organs or result in catastrophic intestinal blockages in animals. It also causes illnesses and malnutrition because a stomach stuffed with plastic gives an animal the appearance of being full.
Plastic waste is so prevalent that it has been discovered in some of the wildest and most inaccessible places on Earth, including Antarctica and the Mariana Trench’s deepest canyons. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which covers an area of ocean three times the size of France, is one of five enormous, whirling deep sea gyres formed by the accumulation of floating plastic due to ocean currents.
There may be upwards of 5 trillion individual bits of plastic floating in the water, according to estimates. And if we keep making plastic at the current rate, by 2050 the ocean could contain more plastic than fish.
As all life on Earth largely depends on the quality of the ocean, many organisations and individuals took upon themselves to act upon marine conservation. With 2030 Agenda deadline just a few years away, marine conservation efforts have increased in response to the oceans’ profound biological and economic transformation, both through the expansion of protected areas and other legislative frameworks as well as through the creation and uptake of innovative technology.
Blockchain as an Incentive to Take Climate Action
The Plastic Bank is a non-profit entity that uses Blockchain-secured digital tokens for the trading of recyclable plastics. By compensating recyclers, they hope to stop the flow of plastic into our oceans. lowering waste and contributing to the fight against poverty. The Plastic Bank wants to scale its blockchain technologies to meet rising demand and safeguard the operations that run on it, and is collaborating alongside partners at Cognition Foundry and IBM to put their plan into reality.
Plastic Bank strives to eradicate poverty while preventing ocean plastic. The full value of the material is revealed by Plastic Bank, making it too precious to be thrown away. This is done by permitting the exchange of waste plastic for cash, goods, or blockchain-secured digital tokens. This strengthens recycling ecosystems all around the world, promotes ethical economic growth in underserved areas, and stops the flow of plastic into our oceans.
The majority of ocean plastic originates in developing countries without a recycling infrastructure. To ensure that its collectors have a steady, livable income, Plastic Bank builds this equipment and offers a Social Plastic® premium amount for plastic waste. Communities are encouraged to combat their daily pollution by increased recycling incentives.
Similarly, Green Token also incentivises individuals who are wanting to make an impact and be rewarded for the work they do. Green Token is a rewards-based project focusing on rewarding climate actions with an on-chain cryptocurrency, and to unite a Green Community that supports projects contributing to sustainable development. By building decentralised autonomous organisations (DAOs), community members in the DAO can have full autonomy in deciding on the direction of the organisation, which builds a sense of ownership. Members also have a say in the sustainable initiatives that they want to support with their tokens.
In September of 2022, Green Token will be listed on PancakeSwap and QuickSwap. Token holders will be able to swap it for other tokens on the decentralised exchange. At this stage, they are also planning giveaways such as carbon-backed NFTs to raise public awareness in forest and marine conservation through digital artistic projects and collaborations. Be sure to follow their socials to stay tuned for upcoming in-person volunteering events and major collaborations with different industries!
Removing Plastic Waste from Our Oceans
The Ocean Cleanup is a Dutch non-profit organisation that is developing cutting-edge technologies to clean up the oceans of plastic. The Ocean Cleanup and Konecranes, a Finnish manufacturer of cranes, have teamed up to design, produce, and maintain The Ocean Cleanup’s Interceptor, a system that will remove plastic from rivers before it enters the ocean. You may want to track their cleanup process here.
They have a dual strategy to go forward with marine conservation by eliminating plastic waste from the oceans. On the one hand, the technology halts the source to stop further plastic from entering the oceans and rivers. However, the ocean already contains a significant amount of residual plastic, particularly in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch between Hawaii and California. It’s huge and won’t go away on its own. Therefore, we need to tidy that up.
To prevent plastic from entering seas, The Ocean Cleanup has installed three interceptors in rivers in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Dominican Republic. River currents are used by the solar-powered barrier and conveyor system to direct plastic into containers that can be transported back to land and processed.
The ultimate goal, according to Founder, is to create “the first scalable system” to eliminate trash from the oceans.
Preserving Coral Reefs
Over 25% of marine species finds habitat on coral reefs, which are also valuable to people in numerous ways. One of the planet’s most diversified ecosystems is found in coral reefs. In addition to providing habitat and refuge for marine species, it shields coastlines from tropical typhoons. In addition to bringing in $9.6 billion in tourists, it provides one billion people on the earth with food and income.
The condition of coral reefs is continuously deteriorating as a result of pollution and other human activities. Artificial intelligence technology is being used by researchers to monitor and restore coral reefs.
Project CORail, an AI-based solution to monitor, categorise, and assess the health of coral reefs, is the result of collaboration between Accenture, Intel, and the Sulubaai Environmental Foundation. The marine conservation project aims to provide a set of methods to evaluate ecosystem services (ES) from coral reefs for public decision making for the present and for the future in the context of global changes including demographic and climate change. Data from underwater cameras outfitted with the Video Analytics Services Platform are gathered for this research (VASP). AI is being used by researchers to find, count, and categorise marine creatures.
The engineers also created a Sulu-Reef Prosthesis, a concrete underwater platform that will give sturdy support for broken corals, using the design offered by Sulubaai. Live coral fragments will develop inside the Sulu-Reef Prosthesis, giving marine life a hybrid habitat.
To identify and capture images of marine creatures as they pass by the environment, smart underwater video cameras outfitted with the Accenture Applied Intelligence Video Analytics Services Platform (VASP) are strategically deployed. VASP can count and categorise the species using AI. Researchers can monitor system activity and make decisions based on the data by sending the data straight to a surface dashboard.