'These ones are called baby legs, because they are made with baby tights' says DIY surface trawl maker
MUN research encouraging citizen scientists to collect data on plastic in oceans, ponds and rivers
Anyone can collect data on plastic contamination in the ocean or a pond with cheap, DIY surface trawls, says a Memorial University research scientist.
"If you want to find out about plastics in your water, particularly because fishes and animals that we eat, eat plastics, you can trawl in your area because these are easy-to-build trawls," said Max Liboiron, Director of MUN's Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research (CLEAR).
"One of the things we found is that I don't want to do my food fishery fishing around Bell Harbour, Bell Island, because it's full of plastic, but Petty Harbour has really clean water, as far as plastics go, so I'll do my food fishing there,"Liboiron said Wednesday.
Liboiron said the group's ultimate goal is to keep plastic out of the ocean and waterways, such as lakes and rivers.
"We can start identifying the sources, the amounts and address those upstream because once they are in the ocean, they are in the ocean. You can't clean them up, there are too many and they are too small." said Liboiron.
Science for everyone
She and members of her lab believe the best way to get the greatest number of people involved is to develop cheap, accessible tools, like BabyLegs, that cost less than $15 to build.
Right now, the industry standard for plastic trawling is a piece of equipment called the Manta Trawler. It's made in California and costs about $3500 US.
The DIY trawls CLEAR makes have been designed for conditions in Newfoundland and Labrador, but Liboiron said they're also being used in other parts of the world, such as California, New York City and Iceland.
"The point is that the most people imaginable can use these trawls," she said.