Derelict Fishing Gear Mapping and Removal in the Main Hawaiian Islands
Pacific Region; 2005, 2006, 2008
Marine debris continues to present a hazard to marine life and habitat as well as to safe navigation in the main Hawaiian Islands (MHI). As recently as November 2004, a three-ton mass of derelict fishing gear was found in Kaneohe Bay, O‘ahu, and an emergency team consisting of federal, state, local, and non-governmental organization partners was assembled to dismantle and dispose of the debris. Additional small-scale removal efforts take place on each of the islands on an as-needed basis.
This project, coordinated by the NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center Coral Reef Ecosystem Division (CRED), includes the survey and removal of marine debris around the main Hawaiian islands (MHI). It is the first comprehensive effort to determine the distribution and abundance of marine debris in the MHI, about which relatively little is known.
A goal of this project was to assist federal, state, and local coastal managers, along with local communities, in identifying and prioritizing cleanup areas and targeting specific sites for future monitoring.
In 2005 and 2006 aerial surveys were conducted on Kauai, Hawaii (Big Island), Lanai, Maui, Molokai, and Oahu. Maps of exact DFG locations were produced with geographic information systems (GIS) software. In addition, removal efforts were conducted on Lanai and Oahu.
In 2008, CRED will conduct a series of aerial surveys in an effort to further characterize the extent of derelict fishing gear (mainly nets) accumulation in the near shore environment of the MHI. A subsequent analysis will be conducted to compare previous survey results to current findings. The maps of derelict fishing gear in the MHI will be disseminated for use by other agencies, organizations and the general public. CRED will also conduct a targeted removal operation on the shores of Oahu.
2005 and 2006
Trained personnel from NOAA PIFSC have completed helicopter aerial surveys of over 700km of shoreline to spot marine debris around the coastlines of Kauai, Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, and the Big Island of Hawaii. Over the course of 13 days (50 flight hours) between February and May 2006, they obtained GPS data, photos, and other information that have been used to map the distribution and abundance of the debris located.
The surveys of Kauai, Molokai, Lanai, Maui, Oahu and the Big Island of Hawaii are now complete. With over 700 debris sites reported, comprising an estimated 129 tons (258,000 pounds), the marine debris problem has proven to be greater than expected. A cleanup of Oahu removed over 18 tons of nets and other debris and one of Lanai yielded approximately 19 tons.
View maps of debris sites noted in this project.
In 2008, NOAA PIFSC conducted a series of aerial surveys in an effort to further characterize the extent of derelict fishing gear (mainly nets) accumulation in the near shore environment of the main Hawaiian Islands. A subsequent analysis will be conducted to compare previous survey results to current findings. The maps of derelict fishing gear in the main islands will be disseminated for use by other agencies, organizations and the general public. PIFSC also conducted a targeted removal operation on the shores of Oahu.
A total of 51.5 hours were flown over 6 islands. PIFSC spotted 1,086 piles of derelict fishing gear ranging in sizes as small as .01 meter cubed and as large as an 2 meters cubed.
- NOAA Fisheries Service, Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, Coral Reef Ecosystem Division (CRED)
- University of Hawaii, Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research (JIMAR)
- Schnitzer Steel Hawaii Corp.
- Covanta Energy
- NOAA Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whales National Marine Sanctuary
- NOAA Fisheries Service, Pacific Islands Regional Office
- State of Hawaii, Department of Land and Natural Resources
- Kauai, Honolulu, Maui, and Hawaii Counties
- Allow for a current assessment of derelict fishing gear accumulation in the MHI
- Opportunity to raise public awareness on the impacts of marine debris
- Reduce wildlife entanglement and habitat degradation
- Decrease the impact on coastal habitat, species of concern, and maritime navigation
- Nets are used to create usable electricity and not put into landfill
Photos of the project underway in the main Hawaiian Islands.
Download the 1-pager handout (pdf 261KB) on this project here.
This program is funded through NOAA's Ocean Service, Office of Response & Restoration, Marine Debris Program.