The Atlantic

Letters: ‘Fixing the Bad Will Be Just as Bad’

Readers consider the effect of the Ocean Cleanup project on the neuston, an ecosystem at the water’s surface.
Source: Lorin Eleni Gill / AP

How Plastic Cleanup Threatens the Ocean’s Living Islands

The Ocean Cleanup project, founded with the vision of clearing the world’s oceans of plastic, has designed a 600-meter-long barrier with a three-meter-deep net, ostensibly to collect plastic passively as the currents push water through the net in the open ocean. When she learned of the plan, Rebecca Helm wrote recently on TheAtlantic.com, “I thought immediately of the neuston.”

The neuston, an ecosystem living at the ocean’s surface, exists in the same spots as plastic. “Cleaning up 90 percent of the plastic using the current method means potentially destroying 90 percent of the neuston,” Helm

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