From: Associated Press
Published October 13, 2005 12:00 AM

Hawaii Removes 125 Tons of Marine Debris

HONOLULU — Teams led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service collected more than 125 tons of debris in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands last year, up from the 5 tons they gathered in 1996.


"Certainly, in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, we're catching up in a significant way," said Rusty Brainard, chief of the Coral Reef Ecosystem Division at the NOAA office in Honolulu.


"We're collecting more than continues to (build up). But we estimate it is accumulating at 40 tons a year. The moment we stop, we start falling behind."


Much of the debris comes from commercial fishing boats, but some also washes into the ocean from land.


Some of it can be destructive. Nets catch and kill marine life while heavy trawling gear washes through lagoons and rips up coral reefs.


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Authorities say they want to intercept debris while it's still at sea.


The buildup moves with the currents. Most of the debris usually flows to the northernmost islands of the archipelago. In El Nino years, the currents take the debris south to beaches in the main Hawaiian Islands.


An estimated 40 tons of marine debris -- from ropes and plastic bottles to medical waste -- washes up on Hawaiian reefs and beaches each year.


Source: Associated Press


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