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15,000 lbs of Fishing Nets from Hawai’i Island Heading to “Nets-to-Energy” Program

Last Saturday, Hawai’i Wildlife Fund (HWF) and 8 volunteers loaded another 15,000 pounds of derelict fishing nets and bundles of line into a 40′ Matson container. This is the 10th container that has been filled by HWF since 2005.  HWF saves the nets it collects from marine debris cleanup events along the shoreline for inclusion in NOAA’s “nets to energy” partnership. Hawai’i was the first in the country to have a program like this in which these marine debris items are converted to electricity rather than going into a landfill. Now, many ports around the mainland US have similar strategies for this “fishing for energy” framework.

Net pile with 16 months worth of collection by HWF on Hawai’i Island

“This work would not be possible without the hundreds of volunteers who help Hawaii Wildlife Fund with these ocean debris removal efforts every year. In particular, this net loading was made possible due to the generous donation by JD Services, LLC of a tractor and operator for the day, and the County of Hawaii for allowing us to store these nets at the Nā‘āhelu transfer station in between container loads,” said Megan Lamson, HWF Program Director for Hawaii Island.

Here in Hawaii, Matson Navigation provides the 40′ container and free shipping of this type of marine debris from outer islands to O’ahu. Then, Schnitzer Steel, a metal recycling company, cuts the nets into smaller pieces before they are delivered to the Covanta H-power Plant in Kapolei. There, they are burned and converted to electricity for the City and County of Honolulu.

Megan Lamson controlling winch pulling a large net off the Ka’ū coast.

The vast majority of these nets were pulled off the remote and rocky Ka’ū coastline. Six large net bundles (~1,200 lbs) were pulled out of the ocean by boaters in West Hawai’i and dropped off at Honokōhau Harbor earlier in 2017.

Lamson says, “HWF is committed to removing marine debris from along our shorelines and working with local residents, businesses and government representatives to reduce the amount of plastic that finds its way into the ocean. Plastic pollution is a serious problem that now impacts most life forms that live in the ocean or use the ocean as a food source. But, it’s a problem with an obvious solution. We must start reducing our usage of plastics, especially single-use plastics in order to protect the health of the ocean, and the health of the wildlife and people who depend on the ocean – all of us!”

Hawaii Wildlife Fund to Be Featured on CNN – Japanese Tsunami Marine Debris and Kamilo Beach

On Tuesday (March 5th), Hawaiʻi Wildlife Fund (HWF) staff and several volunteers brought an LA-based CNN news crew down to Kamilo Point to talk story about potential Japanese Tsunami Marine Debris and marine debris problems along the southeast coastline.

CNN correspondent Kyung Lah interviewing HWF’s Megan Lamson at Kamilo. Photo courtesy of Harold Leatherman/HWF volunteer.

CNN correspondent Kyung Lah interviewing HWF’s Megan Lamson at Kamilo. Photo courtesy of Harold Leatherman/HWF volunteer.

The story will be told by CNN news correspondent Kyung Lah. The first part of this story will air on Mon., March 11th at 9am Eastern Standard Time “EST” (4am in Hawaiʻi“ HST” so have your DVRs ready!), at 10am EST (5am HST), and will re-run throughout the day. HWF will post a link on their website  www.wildhawaii.org and on their Facebook page  www.facebook.com/hawaiiwildlifefund as soon as it appears online.

This story will appear as a special on the two-year anniversary of the huge tsunami that originated in the Fukushima district in Japan.

HWF would again like to express our deepest sympathy to the victims and victims’ family of this natural disaster. First and foremost, this event was a human tragedy. Thousands of people died, and yes indeed, tons of debris were also released into the ocean. While we are thankful for the amount of attention this event has caused for marine debris awareness around the globe, we want all of our volunteers to recognize that marine debris has been a serious problem for decades (basically since the invention of plastic). HWF has picked up international debris from shorelines throughout the Hawaiian Archipelago since 1998 and realizes that marine debris is a people problem, not solely the result of a single tsunami event or country of origin.

Let us not forget that each of us contributes to this problem daily by using (and improperly disposing of) single-use throwaway and non-recyclable plastic products.  In turn, we can each be part of the solution and choose to re-use, reduce, recycle, and refuse (excess packaging, single-use items, etc.) and participate in local cleanup events.

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.