Researchers Embark on Expedition to Survey and Remove Marine Debris at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge

August 11, 2015

Marine debris team members carefully sorting through a pile of plastic debris collected from the shorelines of Midway Atoll in 
        2014.
Marine debris team members carefully sorting through a pile of plastic debris collected from the shorelines of Midway Atoll in 2014.

Scientists from the Coral Reef Ecosystem Division (CRED) of the NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center departed today on a 28-day land-based mission to survey and remove derelict fishing gear and plastic debris from Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. A crew of nine scientists with specialized training will conduct survey and removal operations along the backreefs and shorelines of the atoll. Mission objectives include the removal of derelict fishing gear and plastics, detection of Japan tsunami-related debris, continuation of an accumulation and coral injury assessment project, and establishment of a micro- and meso-plastic study.

Removal of debris from the coral reefs and shorelines of Midway Atoll will reduce the risk of entanglement for protected marine mammals, sea turtles, and other wildlife that use these habitats. Debris removed from the reefs and shorelines will be staged on Midway and opportunistically transported back to Honolulu, where it will be recycled and/or converted into renewable energy.