Thursday, May 23, 2013

Fishing gear dominates marine debris on Hawaiian beaches

Fishing gear continues to dominate the debris washing up on Hawaiian shores after the March 11, 2011, Japan tsunami.

An islandwide beach debris collection at Kaho`olawe by the Kaho`olawe Island Reserve Commission was held March 13 and 14. Volunteers collected 2,029 pounds of debris.

Of that, more than three-quarters was clearly from ocean or waterway activities. More than 56 percent consisted of buoys and floats, many of them associated with fishing activities.

Some of those floats were contaminated with mussels not native to Hawai`i. 

The data was tallied by Keep the Hawaiian Island Beautiful, and the cleanups were partially funded through a grant from the Ocean Conservancy and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The cleanup came up with 8,268 pieces of debris. By quantity, they included 4676 buoys or floats, 1,365 plastic beverage bottles and 16 glass ones; 675 pieces of rope, 592 fishing traps such as crab traps, 172 caps and lids, 168 pieces of fishing net.

Items totaling less than 100 units included 92 toys, 88 shoes or pieces of clothing, 77 strapping bands, 73 crates, 72 oil/lube bottles, 52 fishing lures or light sticks, 33 straws or stirrers, 30 car parts, 23 cigarette lighters, 18 eating implements, 16 plastic bags, and a dozen pieces of fishing line.

In small numbers were six beverage cans, five bleach or cleaner bottles, two food containers, two pieces of shotgun shell, one si-pack holder, a balloon and one light bulb.

Percentage-wise, the big items were 57 percent buoys or floats, 16 percent plastic bottles, 8 percent ropes, 7 percent crab, lobster or fishing traps, 2 percent fishing lures or light sticks, 2 percent caps and lids, 1 percent shoes or clothing, 1 percent toys, and everything else less than 1 percent per category.

The cleanup also collected tiny bits of plastic—microplastics—which are being processed by the University of Hawai`i at Manoa pending research on them at a later time.

© Jan TenBruggencate 2013

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