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International Symposium on Marine Debris Held in Hilo

December 9, 2015, 2:51 PM HST
* Updated December 9, 2:53 PM
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Hawai’i Wildlife Fund and World Ocean Collective drew a crowd of 100 last week as the pair of organizations gathered for its first ever international symposium in Hilo.

The “2015 Hilo Symposium on Marine Debris & Tsunami Driftage: Dialogue on marine debris removal, prevention, disaster recovery and making connections around the North Pacific,” took place at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s Mokupapapa Discovery Center in downtown Hilo on Dec. 3 and Dec. 4, and followed up with a beach cleanup event, hosted by HWF at Kamilo Point in Ka’u, on Dec. 5.

Group shot of the HWF team after the symposium. HWF photo.

Group shot of the HWF team after the symposium. HWF photo.

Through partnerships and close work with local marine debris partners, groups from the Pacific Northwest, and Japan the symposium aimed to achieve a set of four goals.

  1. Share effective recovery and removal techniques.
  2. Spread the word about tsunami and disaster preparedness.
  3. Share updates and new information about ongoing marine debris prevention networks.
  4. Make connections and work together to reduce the amount of marine debris in the world’s oceans and waterways.

Event organizers say about 50 participants attended the entire two-day symposium and clean-up event, while 100 people attended the public symposium on Friday evening.

Photo of the symposium attendees after Friday night's public event. HWF photo.

Photo of the symposium attendees after Friday night’s public event. HWF photo.

“We are humbled by the turnout of this past week and have made new friends and allies in our mission to remove and prevent marine debris to protect native wildlife. The three days with our partners around the North Pacific were very productive,” said Megan Lamson, HWF’s Hawai’i Island Program Director. “Marine debris is everyone’s problem and is a worldwide issue.

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“We have to think globally and act locally to inspire the change we seek in this world. We have to think globally and act locally to inspire the change we seek in the world. By coming together to share stories and to discuss effective cleanup strategies as a team, we can reduce the amount of marine debris in our world’s oceans hopefully even prevent it.”

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A total of eight presentations were held on each day of the symposium, which included a keynote speech by Dr. Walter Dudley, Emeritus Professor of Marine Geology and Oceanography at the University of Hawai’i at Hilo.

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