Archive for June, 2012

Hawaii ranked 7th in beach water quality

June 27th, 2012
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How does your local beach rank in NRDC's Testing the Waters annual report?

How does your local beach rank in NRDC's Testing the Waters annual report? Go to www.nrdc.org/beaches to find out.

Hawaii ranked seventh out of 30 states in beach water quality, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council's annual "Testing the Waters: A Guide to Quality at Vacation Beaches" report.

While that's better than the previous year, Hawaii residents should still have some concerns, given that four percent of ocean water samples exceeded national standards in 2011. Beaches of concern (exceeding national standards) include Nawiliwili Harbor (13%), Lumaha'i Beach (13%), Ke‘e Beach (18%), Hanalei Beach Park (22%) and Kalihiwai  Bay (20%) in Kauai County; and Honoli'i Beach Park (16%) and Pelekane Bay (13%) in Hawaii County.

NRDC, an international non-profit group, advocates strong policies to identify unsafe beach water quality as well as to protect beach goers from waterborne illnesses.

In 2011, there were a total of 4,691 warning/advisory days due to stormwater runoff and five warning/advisory days due to sewage spills in Hawaii.

Last year, NRDC expressed concerns about water problems because several homes on Mokauea Island in Ke‘ehi Lagoon were directly discharging sewage into the ocean. The homes that are currently occupied there now have a dry compost system, reports NRDC. Beachwater sampling around the island has verified these systems are working properly.

Another area of concern lies with the Lahaina Wastewater Reclamation Facility, operated by Maui County, which uses injection wells to dispose of sewage that has been through secondary treatment. While solids are removed, the water is not disinfected. In January this year, the Clean Water Branch and University of Hawaii began gathering monthly water samples to test for contamination. So far, testing has indicated that wastewater injected into the wells is finding its way to the ocean.

Across the U.S., the NRDC found that our nation's beaches continue to experience significant water pollution putting the health of beachgoers and swimmers at risk.

In 2011, the number of beach closing and advisory days reached the third-highest level in the 22-year history of its report. More than two-thirds of those advisories were issued because bacteria levels exceeded public health standards.

There's a list of 5-star beaches as well, but no Hawaii beaches made that list.

To see the full report for Hawaii, go to www.nrdc.org/water/oceans/ttw/hi.asp. This year, NRDC offers a search tool where you can enter an address, zip code and state to find reports on beaches near you.

Posted in Ocean | 1 Comment »

Australia now has largest network of marine protected areas

June 18th, 2012
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It's official.

Australia announced last Thursday its decision to create the world's largest network of marine protected areas, including a fully protected marine reserve in the Coral Sea.

The Coral Sea no-take marine reserve — known in Australia as a national park zone — spans 503,000 square kilometers (or 194,000 square miles) and will be the world's second largest fully protected no-take marine reserve. Watching PEW's video of the Australian Marine Reserves will take your breath away and give you an appreciation for the beauty of the Coral Sea.

It surpasses Hawaii's Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands — which in 2006 was the largest fully-protected marine reserve in the world at 362,000 square kilometers (140,000 square miles).

“Once again, Australia is leading the world in protecting its marine environment and the unique wildlife it contains,” said Joshua Reichert, managing director of the Pew Environment Group. “The Coral Sea joins the growing number of large, fully protected marine reserves in the world, adding to the emerging recognition of the need to conserve the special places in our ocean.”

More than 486,900 people from across Australia and around the world publicly declared their support for strong protection of the Coral Sea through efforts led by the Pew Environment Group. This is the highest level of public support ever received by the Australian government on an environmental issue. In addition, more than 300 marine scientists from 35 countries, including Australia, endorsed the need for protecting the Coral Sea.

Click here for a list of maps and fact sheets.

Wreck Reef at Coral Sea, Australia. Photo by Xanthe Rivett.

Marine life at Wreck Reef in the southern part of Coral Sea Islands, Australia. Photo by Xanthe Rivett.

Changing Tides to screen at Maui Film Festival

June 11th, 2012
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"Changing Tides," a 15-minute documentary about Hawaii's marine debris, was officially selected for the 2012 Maui Film Festival and will be shown at 4 p.m. at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center this Saturday, June 16.

The Sustainable Living Institute of Maui, Positive H20 and Surfrider Foundation teamed up with award-winning filmmaker filmmaker Danny Miller to produce the film.

The Northern Pacific Gyre, more commonly known as the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch," has an impact not only on Hawaii residents but other Pacific Islands and the rest of the globe. It's a global problem.

An estimated 26 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean every year - tons of "plastic debris" — pieces of plastic that have broken down or been eaten up by marine animals in the ocean, wash up on Hawaii shorelines.

The story is told through the eyes of Hawaiian kupuna, professional watermen, scientists and volunteers who all share a passion for the ocean and are trying to protect it.

Besides demonstrating the real dangers of marine debris, the film also provides solutions individuals can take to decrease their plastic footprint.

On Saturday morning (June 16), Positive H2O and Surfrider are also holding a beach cleanup from 9 a.m. to noon at Launiupoko Beach, with free lunch from Lulu's afterwards. Bring your boards to enjoy the "clean water playground" after the cleanup.

Visit sustainablemaui.org for more details.

One world, one ocean

June 8th, 2012
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Everyone, whether you live close to the coastline or not, is affected by the ocean.

Did you know that 90 percent of the big fish are gone? Tuna, swordfish, halibut, cod and flounder populations have been devastated by overfishing, according to One World One Ocean. There are also 405 reported ocean "dead zones" which have little to no oxygen due to nitrogen pollution.

Around the world, discarded plastic bags and other litter have created a toxic "plastic soup" in five massive ocean gyres. The one closest to Hawaii (between Hawaii and California) is the North Pacific Gyre, better known as the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch."

Today is World Oceans Day. Check out this video by One World One Ocean. The non-profit group today offers "The Ocean We Want to Know," telling of Ferdie and Mitzi's round the world adventure, from Yosemite to the Mariana Trench to the Sargasso Sea. They share that the tallest mountain in the world, measured from seafloor to summit, is not Mount Everest — it's Mauna Kea.

You can get involved by helping to steward your coastline and reducing your use of plastic, wherever you live. Kudos to the folks who went out and cleaned up the coastline today.

Posted in Ocean | 1 Comment »

Beach cleanups - International Surfing Day

June 4th, 2012
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Enthusiastic boy pitches in during one of Sustainable Coastline Hawaii's beach cleanups. Photo courtesy of Sustainable Coastline Hawaii.

Enthusiastic boy pitches in during one of Sustainable Coastline Hawaii's beach cleanups. Photo courtesy of Sustainable Coastline Hawaii.

Get ready, get set, clean!

The Surfrider Foundation and Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii are organizing a week full of events, including two beach cleanups — one on the north shore and one on the south shore — in celebration of International Surfing Day (June 20).

On Sunday, June 17, join in on the fun with a south shore coastal cleanup of Diamond Head beginning at 9:45 a.m. followed by a thank you party at Tiki's Bar & Grill in Waikiki. There will be free food and prizes for volunteers, sponsored by Barefoot Wines.

On Saturday, June 23, Surfrider and Sustainable will be joined by the Kokua Hawaii Foundation to host a North Shore coastal cleanup of the James Campbell Wildlife Refuge. Check-in is at 9:30 a.m., with the cleanup from 10 a.m. to about noon. The beach cleanup is followed by a 5 p.m. party at The Refinery Project in Waialua. Event sponsor Method cleaning products will collect the day's plastic to recycling into product packaging. Gloves, trash  bags and water will be provided. Also, during the beach cleanup, look for glass bottles buried in the sand — those who discover them can receive prices from sponsors including Quiksilver, Patagonia and Hurley.

The cleanups are kid-friendly and include fun, educational components on ways participants can reduce their environmental impact on the ocean. The trash and debris collected are tallied and reported to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

On Wednesday, June 20, participate in a group surf. Details will be available on the International Surfing Week on Oahu Facebook page. Also, shop at Whole Foods and 5 percent of the store's proceeds will be donated to Surfrider Foundation's Oahu chapter.

"If you surf, if you love and respect the ocean, come out and show your support," says Sustainable Coastline's executive director Kahi Pacarro.