Tons of marine debris removed from Northwestern Hawaiian Islands - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Tons of marine debris removed from Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

(Image: Hawaii News Now) (Image: Hawaii News Now)
FORD ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Scientists removed more than 100,000 pounds of marine debris from two tiny atolls in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.

At a news conference Thursday, the scientists displayed the debris collected during an annual clean-up in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. 

Officials from agencies involved in the cleanup say the debris collected is a fraction of what washes up every year at Midway and Kure atolls.

"People should care about marine debris because in a place as far away as Midway and Kure, if garbage is washing up the beach that speaks to the health of the ocean," said Matt Brown, of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

The display also stressed how simple lifestyle changes -- like using a reusable cup -- can make a difference.

Meanwhile, officials say big net bundles can entangle marine mammals and birds and destroy reefs when they drag across them.

And the smaller pieces of trash can be ingestion hazards for wildlife.

The challenge ahead, according to officials, will be reducing the marine trash -- and pressuring lawmakers in Washington D.C. to keep the debris removal programs going. "I've got to fight for federal funding. We do have bi-partisan support," said U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii.

All of the debris shown put on display Thursday is enough to fill 12 shipping containers and will now be burned at the city's H-Power plant to produce electricity.

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