State taps local groups to assist with marine debris

Published On: Jun 04 2013 05:51:00 PM HST

It proved to be a big job removing a big Japanese fishing bin rolled into Lanikai beach recently.

With only one state worker to respond-- firefighters who were flagged down by a beachgoer went above and beyond their normal duties to help remove the dead birds and the invasive species that hitchhiked across the Pacific.

Now, state officials have enlisted the help of local groups across the state to help cleanup marine debris in organized cleanups.

"It is really to focus on marine debris with an awareness, that it might be the larger Japanese tsunami marine debris," said Stewart Coleman, of the Surfrider Foundation Oahu Chapter.

The Surfrider Foundation's Oahu and Kauai chapters have been awarded grants to help with community outreach.

"The others that won it are KUPU and Sustainable Coastlines so we are working with them to make sure we don’t overlap," Coleman said.

The possibility of more marine debris washing up on our shores is something that officials say is a reality we will have to deal with unless more is done to prevent it from collecting in the oceans.

The Surfrider Foundation hopes to raise the profile of the problem.

"We are going to be recruiting people in areas where we are cleaning up especially out on the North Shore since that is a collection point," said Coleman.

The Surfrider’s next major cleanup is June 15 at Diamond Head.

Most of the debris collected on that day is expected to come from on shore--before it washes into the ocean.

 "Our cleanups mostly are just single-use plastics. It's everything from lighters, bottle caps, plastic bags and bottles.,cigarette butts. Cigarette butts are the ones we find the most of," said Coleman.

  The last Oahu cleanup netted 3 ,000 pounds of debris, all part of a larger Pacific problem.

Just recently, NOAA collected 14 metric tons of marine debris on Midway Atoll.


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