More Marine Debris Removed from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

Derelict fishing gear is a threat to green turtles in 
            shallow waters of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
Derelict fishing gear is a threat to green turtles in shallow waters of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

In late June and July, Coral Reef Ecosystem Division scientists worked with the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Army 7th Engineer Dive Team aboard the Coast Guard Vessel Walnut, a 225-ft buoy tender, to remove derelict fishing gear and other marine debris from Maro Reef, Kure Atoll and Midway Atoll in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI).

During the 3-week voyage, the crew removed an estimated 32 metric tons of derelict fishing nets from waters and beaches of the visited atolls. The PIFSC staff provided technical support, using geographical information systems to survey and locate marine debris. They also advised the Walnut crew on debris removal.

An estimated 52 metric tons of debris accumulate in the NWHI each year, posing numerous threats to the corals and other marine life of the ecosystem, including protected species of sea turtles, seabirds, and marine mammals.