Malolo Project: Focusing Efforts to Detect Derelict Fishing Gear at Sea in the North Pacific
Derelict fishing gear (DFG) is a chronic threat to the coral reef ecosystems of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument (Monument) located in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI). DFG entrained in currents of the North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone is strained out by the reefs and shoals of the Monument causing physical damage to the reef and endangering wildlife. DFG has been the target of intensive removal efforts since 1996, but additional efforts are needed to keep pace with deposition rates as well as to remove it before it has a chance to impact the Monument. Developing the technologies to detect and remove DFG at sea will help offset this imbalance and provide additional protection to Monument resources. Currently, our ability to predict areas of high marine debris concentration is limited.
This pilot project revealed the following areas in which additional work is needed:
- Enhanced coordination and mutual understanding among scientists and technology experts regarding project planning, goals, and implementation
- Enhanced understanding of at-sea debris movement rates relative to the rate of movement of the Transition Zone Chlorophyll Front and its proxy, the 18°C sea surface isotherm
- Capability to launch, fly, and recover an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) in up to 25-knot winds and associated sea states
- The development of a UAS with autonomous flight capabilities
- Selection of an ideal sensor type and quality
- Testing of anomaly detection software on DFG in various sea states
- NOAA Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument
- NOAA PIFSC, Coral Reef Ecosystem Division
- Airborne Technologies, Inc.
Launching the prototype Resolution airframe (Airborne Technologies Inc.) during initial UAS test flights in the nearshore waters of Oahu, Hawaii, December 2007. Photo courtesy of NOAA.
The North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone (CZ), an area where marine debris is known to accumulate, shifts seasonally between 23º N and 37º N latitude. When the CZ dips southward, marine debris is strained out by the shallows of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. Map courtesy of NOAA, data sources: NOAA and ESRI Data & Maps (2004).
Download the 1-pager handout (pdf 252KB) on this project here.
Derelict Fishing Gear Accumulation in the NWHI (NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, Coral Reef Ecosystem Division)
This project is funded through NOAA's Ocean Service, Office of Response & Restoration, Marine Debris Program.