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More Than 1K Pounds of Marine Debris Removed From West Hawai‘i Coast

August 22, 2020, 8:14 AM HST
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Courtesy of DLNR

More than 1,200 pounds of marine debris was removed off West Hawai‘i’s Coast last week.

The DLNR Divisions of Aquatic Resources (DAR), State Parks (SP), the Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund, local businesses, and members of the community, came together to conduct two separate cleanups. Nets and other debris were removed from Keawaiki and a shallow reef in Puakō Bay, then transported for disposal and research.

“These efforts were great examples of State employees, non-profit organizations and individuals working together to keep beaches and reefs clean and beautiful,” DLNR stated.

A Ke Kai Ola volunteer reported a derelict fishing bundle on the beach at Keawaiki. The landowner provided access to this remote North Kona shoreline, and the net was hauled off the beach. The removal crew followed up with a sweep of the beach for any remaining net pieces and other rubbish. This material was estimated to weigh around 130 pounds.

The second was a large cargo-type net covering a shallow reef in Puakō Bay that was reported to DLNR by Kelly Nedved of LightSUP Hawai‘i. With her help, DAR divers conducted an initial assessment of the net and what it would take to remove it from the reef. Later a full removal operation was conducted that involved five DAR employees and nine community volunteers.

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DAR free divers worked to cut the net and remove it from the reef, careful to minimize damage to corals and live rock. Volunteers shuttled the net pieces back to shore and into a truck. LightSUP Hawai‘i and Hawai‘i Surf and Kayak donated the use of stand-up paddleboards and kayaks for the operation. The removal team estimated that over 1,000 pounds of netting were taken off of the reef over a four-hour period.

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“During this operation, divers found several small coral colonies growing in and around the netting,” DLNR stated. “These colonies were carefully removed and placed back onto the reef where they will hopefully continue to grow.”

Both nets will be taken by the Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund and will be saved for a partner at Hawai‘i Pacific University to aid in marine debris research.

Any derelict net or line bundles recovered from the shore or ocean can be deposited in designated bins outside the DAR offices in Kona (at Honokōhau) and Hilo (Wailoa Fisheries Research Station) for contribution to the NOAA Nets to Energy partnership.

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DLNR encourages the public to reach out if they come across marine debris. Click here for more information or call 808-587-0405.

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