Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center Conducts Reef Cleanup in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument

August 10, 2006

The NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette embarked today on a 28-day mission to remove damaging marine debris from coral reef habitats of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument. The debris cleanup expedition is the second this year by the NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC) in waters of the new monument.

A crew of 13 scientists from the PIFSC Coral Reef Ecosystem Division will survey and remove debris accumulations from designated study sites, including areas previously surveyed at Pearl and Hermes Atoll and Kure Atoll. Most of the marine debris consists of derelict fishing gear. The workers will also remove marine debris accumulated on shore at these atolls and at French Frigate Shoals.

Last month, scientists on the Sette removed about 2 tons of marine debris that had washed ashore at Laysan Island and Lisianski Island. The earlier cleanup operation was part of a multipurpose expedition by the NOAA vessel that provided logistical support to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Hawaii Department of Fish and Wildlife staff who work out of field camps in the remote Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and PIFSC research teams in similar camps who are monitoring the highly endangered Hawaiian monk seal.