Billionaire Who Made Wealth Polluting Oceans Is Building World’s Largest Yacht To Clean Them Up

No one would have guessed that Norwegian billionaire, Kjell Inge Røkke, who made his fortune partly through offshore oil drilling, would be the ocean’s savior.

Røkke, whose net worth at the time this article was written was ~$2.6BN, recently announced that he will be donating the majority of his fortune to fund a 600-foot research yacht.

This vessel’s primary purpose will be to solve some of the most challenging environmental issues facing the oceans today – including how to prevent endangered species from going extinct and how to remove plastic trash from the ocean.

The Research Expedition Vessel (REV) is designed specifically for research and expedition activities and can sail through tropical and arctic areas. This vessel could also become the largest yacht in the world and will be available for private charter for up to 36 guests.
Source: Yacht Harbour
According to the Huffington Post, Røkke knows that “there may not be any economic rationale for the private construction of such a ship.” However, Røkke believes that the “case is compelling from the oceans’ point of view.”
This yacht comes at a time when the state of the ocean is dire. According to the Huffington Post, experts estimate that about 19 billion pounds of plastic waste finds its way into the ocean each year.

That’s enough garbage to coverage an area 34 times the size of Manhattan.

Source: Oil Price
This plastic threatens both humans and wildlife. According to Ocean Conservancy, plastics threaten ~600 different wildlife species. It is estimated that 90% of seabirds consume plastics on a daily basis. One out of every three leatherback turtles found has plastic in his/her belly.

Humans are also at risk, as evidence suggests that we consume plastic through the seafood we eat.

Røkke’s REV will strive to remove 5 tons of plastic each day from the oceans. The vessel will then melt the plastic down, and use some of it to fuel the ship. The plastics that cannot be used for fuel will be moved to waste management facilities on land.

Collecting plastic from the ocean only puts a “band-aid” on the problem. In order to solve the problem for good, researchers on Røkke’s vessel will look for plastic alternatives and also identify ways to prevent plastic waste from polluting the ocean.

This project is not Røkke’s first venture to save the ocean. Røkke has worked with Nina Jensen, the secretary general of the World Wildlife Fund and a marine biologist, to develop krill fisheries operation that is environmentally certified. Røkke recognized that the ocean suffers from pollution, habitat destruction, plasticization, and overfishing.
Røkke’s and Word Wildlife Fund (WWF) started working together ~10 years ago. Although they have had disagreements in the past on issues including oil exploration, their partnership has lasted. This lasting partnership is in part due to the open communication between them.
Source: WWF
According to the Huffington Post, Røkke stated in a statement released by the WWF that we know more about outer space than the ocean:
“We probably know more about outer space than the ocean space… The research vessel facilitates increased knowledge of the challenges, and for finding measures of improvement. The focus is on possibilities and solutions.”

Hopefully, this vessel will help experts and scientists develop solutions to clean up the ocean, save endangered species, and find alternatives to plastic. Hopefully, the ocean will be safe for generations to come.

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Source: Huffington PostBusiness Insider


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