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Over 80 Tons of Marine Debris Removed from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

NOVEMBER 16, 2018 — Between September 18 and October 30, five NOAA offices and numerous partners collaborated on a marine debris removal mission in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands that yielded over 80 tons of marine debris.

A range of marine debris samples on a dock.
A selection of the debris on display during the November 9 event. Image credit: NOAA.

These islands are over 1,200 miles from the main Hawaiian Islands and are uninhabited by humans. However, they are home to important coral reef habitat, endangered Hawaiian monk seals, green sea turtles, and seabirds. Much of the marine debris removed included derelict fishing nets and various plastics used in everyday lives such as beverage bottles and toothbrushes.

On Friday, November 9, the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center’s removal team held an event at the Inouye Regional Center to display the collected marine debris and share historical data of debris collection throughout the years. Since 1996, the marine debris project has removed over 1,017 tons of derelict fishing nets and plastics from the coral reefs and shorelines of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument! Students joined the event to help sort marine debris, learn about the issue, and participate in art projects.

This collaborative effort was made possible by NOAA offices (Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, Pacific Islands Regional Office, Marine Debris Program, National Marine Sanctuaries, and the Damage Assessment Remediation and Restoration Program), the University of Hawaii’s Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, the State of Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources, and the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

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Speakers address a group with marine debris display.
Kevin O’Brien, Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center Marine Debris Project Lead, shares words with the attendees during the November 9 event. Image credit: NOAA.
Variety of nets and ropes on display.
Derelict fishing nets will be recycled through a partnership with H-Power’s “Nets to Energy” program. Image credit: NOAA.
Last updated Friday, June 14, 2019 2:55pm PDT