By Nina Wu
The debris, which basically is trash that ends up in the ocean, whether it be derelict fishing nets, ropes or pieces of disposable plastic, threatens monk seals, sea turtles and other marine life in the coral reef ecoystem.
NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) has been conducting annual removal missions of marine debris from Papahanaumokuakea (or the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands) since 1996 as part of a coral restoration effort.
“What surprises us is that after many years of marine debris removal in Papahānaumokuākea and more than 700 metric tons of debris later, we are still collecting a significant amount of derelict fishing gear from the shallow coral reefs and shorelines,” said Kyle Koyanagi, marine debris operations manager at NOAA Fisheries’ Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center and chief scientist for the mission. “The ship was at maximum capacity and we did not have any space for more debris.”
The marine debris was collected from waters and shorelines around the northernmost islands and atolls including: Kure Atoll, Midway Atoll, Pearl and Hermes Atoll, Lisianski Island and Laysan Island.
It will be converted into energy through the Hawaii Nets to Energy Program.
The NOAA team also looked for debris from the 2011 tsunami in Japan, but did not find any.