Hawaii Wildlife Fund Ends its 2014 Marine Debris Season

On Friday, the Hawaii Wildlife Fund (HWF) ended its 2014 marine debris season loading net and line into a container for shipment to Honolulu. The HWF team loaded about 4.5 tons of net into a 40’ trailer provided by Matson Navigation’s “Ka Ipu ‘Āina” program.

L to R (with affiliations): Megan Lamson/HWF, Nohealani Ka'awa/DLNR-DOFAW, Stacey Breining/HWF, Ryan Levita/HWF, and Kallie Barnes/HWF.

L to R (with affiliations): Megan Lamson/HWF, Nohealani Ka’awa/DLNR-DOFAW, Stacey Breining/HWF, Ryan Levita/HWF, and Kallie Barnes/HWF.

Megan Lamson, Marine Debris Project Coordinator for HWF, said “Most of the net and line was recovered from the southeast Kaʻū coast.” The container will be shipped to Oʻahu, where Schnitzer Steel will chop it into pieces and then it will be burned at the Covanta H-Power plant. This Nets-to-Energy partnership was arranged by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program to keep the material out of the landfill and create electricity with it. Since 2005, HWF’s tally for these net and line shipments is about 75 tons.

Ryan Levita and Stacey Breining (with HWF) hard at work during the net loading with the JD Services, LLC. skidsteer and operator in the backdrop.

Ryan Levita and Stacey Breining (with HWF) hard at work during the net loading with the JD Services, LLC. skidsteer and operator in the backdrop.

Lamson said, “This container shipment is only a fraction of the total debris we’ve collected from the Hawaiʻi Island shoreline. This year, winds and currents brought in different proportions of marine debris — less net and line, and a higher percentage of other floating debris, including fish traps, buoys, crates, tires, boat pieces, and an extensive list of normal household items.” While HWF works with other groups on the island gathering debris from multiple sites, their main focus is on the Kaʻū coast where more debris washes ashore than any other place in the main Hawaiian Islands. The organization began this work in 2003 and in recent years has been removing an annual average of 15-20 tons for a total to date of about 173 tons. The HWF marine debris cleanup work is supported with a grant from NOAA.   But, Lamson said “We have other local partners that also help with in-kind donations and funding and we have a large group of volunteers that are critical to the overall effort. The container loading, for example, would not be possible without the tractor assistance provided by JD Services, LLC.”

She said “We organize community cleanups about every other month and dozens of volunteers show up to these events. Our volunteers are an enthusiastic mix of regulars and first-time collectors and are great fun to work with; we recognize them as our most effect tool in our marine debris removal efforts.” The next large cleanup event in Kaʻū will be held on Saturday, February 7th. To volunteer or for more information on HWF’s other activities see wildhawaii.org or contact kahakai.cleanups@gmail.com or (808) 769-7629.

Marine Debris Keiki Education & Outreach Program

Hawaiʻi Wildlife Fund is pleased to announce that it will begin its Marine Debris Keiki Education & Outreach “MDKEO” program on Hawaiʻi Island this Fall.

HWF works with Imi Pono No Ka ‘Āina group from Kaʻū to float microplastic debris from the beach sand at Kamilo Point.  Photo by M Lamson/HWF.

Handpainted keiki output from the HWF workshop at the “GEMS” (Girls Exploring Math & Science) program in Keauhou last year. Photo by M Lamson/HWF

This program will bring two marine science mentors into 20 different elementary schools (K – 5th grade classrooms) to introduce topics like ocean circulation, marine ecology, and human impacts (like marine debris).  Mentors will work with receptive Hawaiʻi Island teachers to coordinate relevant student activities that meet the math and science benchmarks and “Common Core” standards for the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Education for each grade level.

HWF works with Imi Pono No Ka ‘Āina group from Kaʻū to float microplastic debris from the beach sand at Kamilo Point.  Photo by M Lamson/HWF.

HWF works with Imi Pono No Ka ‘Āina group from Kaʻū to float microplastic debris from the beach sand at Kamilo Point. Photo by M Lamson/HWF.

These in-class lectures will conclude with student presentations of potential solutions to reduce marine debris here in Hawaiʻi and elsewhere throughout the Pacific Basin.

The program will culminate with a family “Beach Cleanup Day” at local marine debris hubs like Kamilo Point (Kaʻū), Pololu (North Kohala), Kānekanaka Point (South Kohala), Cape Kumukahi (Puna), Kaipalaoa (Hilo), and Oʻoma (Kona).  This MDKEO program began with financial support from a HWF t-shirt fundraiser and will now be sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program.

“Microplastics” photograph given with permission by HWF volunteer Sean P. King.

“Microplastics” photograph given with permission by HWF volunteer Sean P. King.

For more info about this marine debris prevention program or to sign up a classroom, please contact Catherine at spina.HWF@gmail.com; and for more info about volunteering for our next Kaʻū coastal cleanup event, contact Megan at kahakai.cleanups@gmail.com  or 808/769-7629. Find additional resources and details about HWF’s ongoing conservation projects online at www.wildhawaii.org.

Large Floating Container Spotted off Oahu

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) is asking for the public’s help to locate a large item of marine debris that may be floating in the ocean off the windward Oahu coast and could approach land over the holiday weekend.

Photo Courtesy of DLNR

Photo Courtesy of DLNR

What appears to be a large container, possibly made of metal, is approximately 20 feet long by 8 feet wide, 8 feet high and painted light blue. There is a small, square framed hole in the middle of its top surface that appears open and visible from a distance. About 6 to 8 feet of the object are above water. Its origin and contents are unknown at this time.

DLNR is working closely with its agency partners on the Hawaii Interagency Marine Debris Working Group, including the NOAA Marine Debris Program, U.S. Coast Guard, City and County of Honolulu Emergency Management, and others.

“We are asking people to immediately contact us with latitude and longitude (GPS) position and date and time of sighting, because we want to be able to take control of this large object before it can cause damage to a reef or introduce invasive species,” said William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR chairperson.

 

CNN Special – Hawaii Deals with Japan’s Tsunami Debris

Here is the video that aired on CNN – “Hawaii Deals with Japan’s Tsunami Debris

[youtube=http://youtu.be/jcfn9MyxE_w]

While CNN was setting up shop, HWF and volunteers quickly removed over 200 pounds of marine debris from the coastline with an hour’s effort. And until there is a better solution, HWF and volunteers will continue to pick up the pieces here in Hawaiʻi nei.

FYI another follow-up story that focuses on marine debris problems in general, NOAA’s Nets-to-Energy Program, and recycled “ocean plastic” bottled cleaning products by SF-based company, Method, will air on CNN national and international broadcasting programs in April.

DLNR Examining Options of Removal of Strange Container From Big Island Shores

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) is examining its options for removal of a large circular yellow metal container measuring approximately 10 feet high and 20 feet in diameter which washed ashore on the lava shore four miles south of Na’alehu in Ka’u district, south Hawai’i. A report was made to the department on October 4, from a caller who said he had seen it at Waikapuna on September 27. Hikers had also discovered the object on Wednesday, Oct. 3.

Photo from http://kaunewsbriefs.blogspot.com

A DLNR Big Island staff member was able to locate the object on Friday at the end of a fishing trail on
private land.  There were no signs of any identification marks so its origin at this time is unknown. There
were also no signs of marine life growing on the container, which appeared clean except for minimal algal
growth.

DLNR has asked various local maritime agencies for assistance to identify this type of large object.  NOAA is also checking its database of reported tsunami debris objects.

HOW TO REPORT POSSIBLE JAPAN TSUNAMI MARINE DEBRIS:

The public may report possible findings of possible Japan tsunami marine debris to the Department of Land and Natural Resources at dlnr@hawaii.gov, as well as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at disasterdebris@noaa.gov. Both agencies are asking for photos, date, detailed description of the item and if there are any living organisms other than gooseneck barnacles, location and finder’s contact information. Reports may be made by phone to DLNR at (808) 587-0400.

Related articles

Japan Tsunami – “Debris Fields are No Longer Visible”

Tracking marine debris from the Japanese tsunami

Debris from the tsunami that devastated Japan in March could reach the United States as early as this winter, according to predictions by NOAA scientists. However, they warn there is still a large amount of uncertainty over exactly what is still floating, where it’s located, where it will go, and when it will arrive. Responders now have a challenging, if not impossible situation on their hands: How do you deal with debris that could now impact U.S. shores, but is difficult to find?

[youtube=http://youtu.be/G1EVZmqYNcE]

Federal agencies join forces

To learn more about the tsunami debris, NOAA researchers have been working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other partners to coordinate data collection activities.

NOAA and its partners are also coordinating an interagency assessment and response plan to address the wide-range of potential scenarios and threats posed by the debris.

“We’re preparing for the best and worst case scenarios — and everything in between,” says Nancy Wallace, director for NOAA’s Marine Debris Program.

As the tsunami surge receded, it washed much of what was in the coastal inundation zone into the ocean. Boats, pieces of smashed buildings, appliances, and plastic, metal, and rubber objects of all shapes and sizes washed into the water — either sinking near the shore or floating out to sea. The refuse formed large debris fields captured by satellite imagery and aerial photos of the coastal waters.

The Japanese government estimated that the tsunami generated 25 million tons of rubble, but there is no clear understanding of exactly how much debris was swept into the water nor what remained afloat.

What remains of the debris?

Nine months later, debris fields are no longer visible. Winds and ocean currents scattered items in the massive North Pacific Ocean to the point where debris is no longer visible from satellite. Vessels regularly traveling the North Pacific have reported very few sightings. Only two pieces have been clearly linked to the tsunami.

NOAA is coordinating new interagency reporting and monitoring efforts that will provide critical information on the location of the marine debris generated by the tsunami. Ships can now report significant at-sea debris sightings and individuals or groups can request shoreline monitoring guides at DisasterDebris@noaa.gov.

Where is it?

Computer models run by NOAA and University of Hawaii researchers show some debris could pass near or wash ashore in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument) as early as this winter, approach the West Coast of the United States and Canada in 2013, and circle back to the main Hawaiian Islands in 2014 through 2016.

Researchers caution that models are only predictions based on location of debris when it went into the water, combined with historical ocean currents and wind speeds.

Conditions in the ocean constantly change, and items can sink, break down, and disperse across a huge area. Because it is not known what remains in the water column nor where, scientists can’t determine with certainty if any debris will wash ashore.

Worst- and Best-case Scenarios

The worst-case scenario is boats and unmanageable concentrations of other heavy objects could wash ashore in sensitive areas, damage coral reefs, or interfere with navigation in Hawaii and along the U.S. West Coast. Best case? The debris will break up, disperse and eventually degrade, sparing coastal areas.

Debris will not go away completely, even in a best-case scenario. Marine debris is an ongoing problem for Hawaii and West Coast states, where garbage and other harmful items regularly wash up on beaches, reefs and other coastal areas.

What else is NOAA doing?

NOAA has convened experts to review available data and information from models and provide their perspectives on debris fate and transport. They are gathering information on significant sighting of marine debris in the North Pacific through NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operation’s Pacific fleet, the NOAA Voluntary Observing Ship Program, which includes industry long-haul transport vessels, as well as the NOAA Pacific Island Regional Observer Program and their work with the Hawaii longline fishing industry. NOAA is also working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the State of Hawaii on shoreline debris monitoring in the Papahānaumokuākea Monument.