Marine life in Northwestern Hawaiian Islands free of abandoned fishing gear

Jessica Moye
Jessica Moye
Kyle Koyanagi
Kyle Koyanagi

By Caroline Julian

FORD ISLAND (KHNL) - Marine life in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, is now free from the threat of abandoned fishing gear.

And it's all thanks to the dedication and work of 17 NOAA scientists.

Scientists collected 40 tons of marine debri from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

The boat load shows what the crew tirelessly plucked from the ocean and coral reefs while on a 30 day mission.

Jessica Moye got an up close and personal look at the damage.

"You swim up to a coral head and you see a ton of net on a the reef. It pulls at your heart a little bit when you have to work at it to it pull up," said Moye, a marine debris technician.

Expedition Leader and Chief Scientist Kyle Koyanagi said the ghost nets smother and break the coral.

"When we get on the reef, it's already done it's damage," said Koyanagi.

But corals are not the only lives affected by the debris. There's also loss of marine animals.

"There have been monk seals that have been found entangled. Dead birds, dead sea turtles things like that," said Moye.

Meantime, the crew will continue their efforts to keep the ocean free of debris.

"Every pound that we pull out, hopefully increases the chances of survival for the green sea turtles monk seals, fishes, and all kinds of marine animals," said Koyanagi.

More than 700 tons of abandoned fishing gear have been removed from the reefs and shorelines of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, since the program began in 1996.

The crew plans to leave Oahu for another expedition to the Marine National Monument on October 6th.