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Report Marine Debris on New State Hotline

June 4, 2021, 6:30 AM HST
* Updated June 4, 6:49 AM
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Kamilo Beach net ball (Feb. 23, 2018). PC: DLNR

Marine debris is an immense environmental issue in Hawaii, washing up on island shores and ensnaring precious marine life while disrupting its aquatic ecosystem.

Now, there’s an immediate way for the public to alert the relative responders to its presence.

The new hotline, now available, allows Hawai‘i residents to report derelict fishing gear, such as nets, that are responsible for entangling animals like turtles and humpback whales.

The idea behind the hotline is to have people call in hazardous nets immediately, said Kristen Kelly with the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) Protected Species Program. The hotline is a collaboration between DAR and Sustainable Coastlines on O‘ahu; the Maui Ocean Center Marine Institute; Surfrider Foundation on Kaua‘i; and the Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund on Hawai‘i Island.

“We can mount a rapid response to remove these nets from our shorelines as quickly as possible and before they drift back into the open ocean,” Kelly stated in a DLNR press release Thursday, June 3.

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The hotline has a distinct Hawai‘i flavor with a bit of pidgin thrown in: 833-4-Da-Nets (833-432-6387).

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“Hawaiʻi Wildlife Fund (HWF) is happy to collaborate with this statewide marine debris hotline to recover large derelict fishing nets from along Hawaiʻi Island coastlines, as we have since 2003, thanks to grant support from the NOAA Marine Debris Program and community volunteers,” said Megan Lamson, HWF Hawai‘i program director.

In addition to identifying more marine debris, the recovered nets and derelict fishing gear will be used in research by Hawai‘i Pacific University’s Center for Marine Debris Research (CMDR) to try to source them back to their origin in hopes of working with fisheries to prevent them in the first place.

“We rely on people to report large marine debris sightings so that we can obtain samples for this important research study. The hotline is a huge help,” said co-director of CMDR, Dr. Jennifer Lynch.

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In addition to calling the hotline, officials still encourage people to report debris through the state’s website.

“You can upload photos and it ensures reporting of as much data as possible,” Lynch said. “This is especially helpful in reporting large or hazardous marine debris.”

Click here for the DLNR marine debris response and removal reporting form.

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