An effort to clean up a marine wildlife sanctuary yields 82,000 pounds of trash

The team successfully completed the cleanup in 16 days.
The team successfully completed the cleanup in 16 days.(The Papahanaumokuakea Marine Debris Project (PMDP))
Updated: Nov. 14, 2020 at 12:12 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A major cleanup effort just wrapped up at the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

A crew of 11 hauled out more than 82,000 pounds of marine debris and trash over 16 days. On the remote atoll of Lalo, the team found fishing nets, plastics and even hurricane debris including lumber, roofing and steel cable.

Hurricane Walaka blew through the region in 2018, bringing with it the the extra trash, littering the area.

“Working together with the Papahānaumokuākea Marine Debris Project and Monument co-managers, we were able to reduce the amount of entrapment and entanglement hazards at Lalo,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Monument Superintendent Jared Underwood. “Though work to cleanup debris takes place throughout the year, this trip was essential for removing some of the larger threats posed by aging infrastructure on the island.”

Lalo is in the French Frigate Shoals, and is home to a well-developed coral atoll. Wildlife experts say 90 percent of the Hawaiian population of honu travel to Lalo for safe nesting.

Some 18 different seabird species also call the atoll home, and at any given time, there is an estimated 500,000 breeding seabirds in the area.

“Papahānaumokuākea is the most amazing landscape on earth, both ecologically and culturally, and one that sustains our most vulnerable Hawaiian wildlife species,” said Papahānaumokuākea Marine Debris Project President and Founder Kevin OBrien.

“Picture tiny sandy islands where nearly every square foot of land is used by seabirds, turtles and seals for critical nesting, burrowing, basking and pupping. So it’s a good feeling when we come away from one of these cleanups with a massive pile of rubbish, because each pound of debris removed from this landscape directly translates into square footage of new, safe, available space for wildlife to use," OBrien added.

For more information on their mission, click here.

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