April 18, 2018

Contributed
Evan Rebech, co-owner of Nordic Boatlifts in Norway, recently attempted to set an unusual world record at Jules Undersea Lodge in Key Largo.

Contributed Evan Rebech, co-owner of Nordic Boatlifts in Norway, recently attempted to set an unusual world record at Jules Undersea Lodge in Key Largo.

KEY LARGO — A Norwegian man earlier this month attempted to set a rather unusual world record of selling the most boat lifts to his countrymen in 24 hours while staying inside Jules Undersea Lodge. His attempt for the record, however, was second string to his effort to raise global awareness about damaging microplastics leaching from antifouling paints into the sea.

Boat lifts, he says, can play a major role in Norway, where boat owners tend to keep their vessels in the water and must regularly paint them.

“Our oceans are dying. Microplastic is everywhere. In Norway, with a boat lift, we can at least stop using antifouling paint and the spread of microplastics into our waters,” Evan Rebech said.

Rebech co-owns Nordic Boatlifts in Norway. He didn’t sell his lifts while in the Keys, he sold Golden Boatlifts, a company based in Fort Myers and a manufacturing partner to Nordic.

Rebech sold seven lifts while underwater and one shortly after surfacing.

He become an activist after reading the Norwegian Environment Agency’s report on how microplastics, tiny bits of plastics less than five millimeters in length, have made it to the most remote parts of the Arctic Ocean.

The report revealed that microplastics were found in blue mussels taken from 13 different sites with Norway’s northern coastal town of Skalneset, which had a higher volume of plastic particles than urban areas.

Much of the plastics in Norway likely come from the fishing industry. For decades commercial fisherman used the ocean as a dump, according to the Norwegian Environment Agency repoort. It’s littered with discarded or lost fishing equipment, nets, styrofoam boxes, plastic bags filled with garbage, plastic straps and plastic oil cans according to the report.

The Ocean Conservancy estimates that “[e]every year, 8 million metric tons of plastics enter our ocean on top of the estimated 150 million metric tons that currently circulate our marine environments.”

Rebech estimates that there are 700,000 boats in Norway but only about 210 boat lifts. If fishermen or boat owners can pull their vessels out of the water, they could maintain them better, avoid losing equipment and apply less marine coatings, which also contain microplastics.

“We don’t understand why the the government won’t make it easier to have a boat lift,” he said of Norway. 

Rebech said that by seeking the world record on the most boat lifts sold by a person underwater, he hopes to raise people’s awareness of the impact that plastics have on the ocean.

“Twenty-four hours and 22 minutes after I dove into our underwater office, I resurfaced for a warm shower, fresh air and a very happy crew on the dock waiting,” he said. “ I’m very excited to also become a registered aquanaut through Jules Undersea.”

Rebech said that Guinness World Records is currently reviewing his submission.

tjava@keysnews.com