Rise in reports of abandoned fishing nets washing up in Hawaii

Updated: Apr. 2, 2018 at 5:49 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Organizations are dealing with a surge in reports of abandoned fishing nets washing up along Hawaii's coastlines.

The nets pose a entanglement threat to marine life and can also destroy coral reefs.

"A lot of the debris accumulation is due to our geographic location in the North Pacific," said Mark Manuel, Pacific Islands Regional Coordinator for the NOAA Marine Debris Program. "We're just prone to having high levels of debris accumulate on our shorelines and coral reef environments."

POP Fishing & Marine maintains a drop-off bin for derelict nets at Honolulu Harbor's Pier 38 as part of Hawaii's Nets-to-Energy Program.

"In the past several months, there's been a large uptick, a large volume of nets and debris washing up, probably due to ocean current conditions. We've never seen this much volume in such a short period of time," said Neil Kanemoto of POP Fishing & Marine.

The marine debris is taken to a scrap metal recycling facility where it is chopped into small pieces. The fragments are then sent to the city's H-POWER facility to be burned, producing steam that drives a turbine to generate electricity.

Last month, the Hawaii Wildlife Fund sent 11.6 tons of marine debris from the Big Island to Oahu in a Matson container. The non-profit is now working with its partners to start removing a massive pile of netting from Kamilo Beach.

"There's more out there along the coast just waiting for folks to remove it. There's more floating in the ocean. There's more that will wash in to various beaches throughout the state," said Hawaii Island program coordinator Megan Lamson.

HWF expects to fill up another container for shipment by the end of the year.

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