Posted: November 14, 2022

53 Tons of Marine Debris Removed from Papahānaumokuākea
Second Large-Scale Cleanup in Marine National Monument This Year

Divers haul large nets into their boat.
After being cut free from the reef, large ghost nets like the one pictured here are recovered by specially trained marine debris technicians from PMDP. Teams use a combination of lines, specialty knots and teamwork to haul these large nets into their boats. Image: James Morioka/PMDP

A team from the Papahānaumokuākea Marine Debris Project (PMDP), a Hawaiʻi-based non-profit organization, returned to Honolulu recently aboard the 185-ft ship M/V Imua with 53 tons (105,655 pounds) of marine debris removed from reefs and beaches of the islands and atolls within the Monument.

The 2022 Papahānaumokuākea Marine Debris Project team at Kuaihelani.
The 2022 Papahānaumokuākea Marine Debris Project team at Kuaihelani (Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge). Image: Andrew Sullivan-Haskins/PMDP

Debris included 64,000 pounds of ghost net removed from the reefs, 32,530 pounds of ghost net removed from the shorelines, and 9,125 pounds of ocean plastic debris removed from the shorelines.

The return of the 16-person team marks the completion of their second 30-day large-scale cleanup expedition to Papahānaumokuākea in 2022, bringing the year’s cumulative total of marine debris removed to 202,950 pounds, the equivalent weight of ten full-size school buses or greater than three humpback whales. This most recent haul also brings PMDP’s total to a half-million pounds since they began large scale cleanups two years ago.

In addition to removal of ghost nets and ocean plastics, on this mission the team also tackled the salvage of a derelict vessel that had been beached at Manawai (Pearl and Hermes Atoll) for over a year.

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