Policy News

UN Environment Partners with Schurmann Family for Ambitious New “Voice of the Oceans” Expedition

  • UN Environment and the Schurmann Family have signed a Memorandum of Understanding formalizing their partnership
  • The Clean Seas campaign advocates will embark on their fourth expedition in December 2019
  • The “Voice of the Oceans” project will record and share with the world the family’s experience and findings while at sea to raise awareness about marine pollution

Ahead of the fourth and most audacious expedition yet by Brazil’s seafaring Schurmann family – dubbed the “Voice of the Oceans” – the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the family have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, bringing the exciting new expedition into the Organization’s global Clean Seas campaign, for which the Schurmanns have been active advocates since 2017.

The Schurmann family – the first Latin American family to circumnavigate the world on a sailboat – will hoist their sails on 12 December 2019, departing for an 18-month “Voices of the Ocean” voyage from Brazil to the oceans of the world. The initiative, supported by UNEP, will witness and record, from the family’s sailboat, what they see in the oceans and in remote parts of the world – looking specifically to document plastic pollution. The expedition aims to identify potential solutions to marine pollution, to mobilize governments, the private sector and the public to take action to clean oceans, and to inspire innovation around how to free the seas from plastics.

"Sailing around the planet, we see plastic pollution on remote, uninhabited islands and even in the middle of the ocean. It concerns us greatly, and was the motivation as we planned this new project – to bring awareness and find solutions around the world, as this is a crisis without border,” says David Schurmann, the family’s expedition director. “After 35 years at sea, we have naturally become spokespersons for the oceans; with this project, and with the support of UNEP, we want people to hear the Voice of The Oceans."

"We are very glad to initiate this partnership with the Schurmann Familly. The Voice of the Oceans expedition is a great opportunity to raise awareness on the innovative solutions people around the world are developing to beat plastic pollution,” said Leo Heileman, UN Environment Regional Director in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Between 8 and 13 million tonnes of plastic trash reach the oceans every year, according to estimates. In addition to polluting the waters, this waste causes the death of 100,000 marine animals and 1 million birds annually.

"Voice of the Oceans" is expected to cover up to 40 strategic locations on the planet, including Fernando de Noronha in Brazil, Manhattan in New York, Auckland in New Zealand, and Ducie Island in the Pacific Ocean. It will also sail to the areas known as "gyres", where marine currents converge and cluster a collection of plastic debris carried by the sea currents from around the world.

Story by UN Environment

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