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NOAA removes 50 metric tons of sea trash from Hawaii

By Matt Stansbery Posted Jul 19, 2012 10:00 AM
A bountiful catch was made this month off the northwestern Hawaiian Islands, but it did not contain any fish or coral. 50 metric tons of debris and garbage were removed from the atolls and surrounding waters of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.
NOAA removes 50 metric tons of sea trash from Hawaii

NOAA collected nearly 50 metric tons of marine debris, which threatens monk seals, sea turtles and other marine life in the coral reef ecosystem, in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Photo by NOAA

Starting in 1996, NOAA has carried out annual marine debris removal missions in the northwestern islands in an effort to restore coral.  Although no debris from this year's removal was found connected to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami of Japan, over 700 tons of fishing gear and other plastics have been collected from these waters over the years.

These annual collection trips have literally sparked change in Hawaii as abandoned nets are recycled to create electrical power for some of Hawaii’s residents [see Nets-to-Energy Program]. Carey Morishige, Pacific Islands regional coordinator for NOAA’s Marine Debris Program, states “This mission was a great opportunity to leverage activities that had already been planned and see what we might find.  It’s also an important reminder that marine debris is an everyday problem, especially here in the Pacific."

[via NOAA]

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