'Huge,' 40-ton mass of fishing nets washes ashore on Hawaii beach

KAMILO BEACH (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kamilo Point on the Big Island is considered by researchers to be the dirtiest beach in the state. That's because tons of plastic and other marine debris have washed ashore there.

And now it includes what's believed to be the largest pile of fishing nets to come ashore in Hawaii.

In a video from the International Pacific Research Center, the pile of netting can be seen on the rocky shoreline. Scientist Sarah-Jeanne Royer is dwarfed as she stands atop the pile.

"I've never seen such a big net, and the people around me that's been in the field for longer than myself, they also told me that, wow, this is huge," she said.

How huge?

"If I try making an estimate based on other nets that we've removed, I would say 40 tons."

That 40-ton monster is among several nets that have been spotted around the state in the past few weeks. That included a two-ton net that was retrieved off Waikiki earlier this month. Another pile came ashore near Black Point on Oahu last weekend, and took several days to remove.

"It took eight people a total of 42 hours, and the net was only 2.25 tons," said Royer. "And this net seems to be 20 times bigger."

Scientists say Kamilo Beach, about seven miles northeast of South Point, is at the right spot for ocean currents to deposit tons of debris, most of it plastic.

Volunteers with the Hawaii Wildlife Fund have removed more than 230 tons of marine debris over the past 15 years from the beach, but that doesn't include the 40 tons of fishing net.

Researchers believe the nets and debris are coming from Asia. And they want to know where they're going, using GPS.

"For this we are trying at the moment to put some trackers on marine debris, to follow the marine debris and the nets and to understand better ocean currents," she said.

Royer also wants mariners and others who spot drifting nets and debris in the ocean to report them to the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and the IPRC.

Meanwhile, Royer said the DLNR plans to remove the netting, but it will be a challenge because the beach is difficult to access.

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