A Hawaiian Islands survey of ocean debris has created a snapshot in time to document where trash regularly washes ashore.
The Hawaiian Islands debris survey was funded by the Japanese government to measure debris from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, but found less than 1% actually came from the disaster.
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Most of the Hawaiian Islands debris was from discarded fishing nets and trash, accumulating mostly in hotspots on the north and east shores of each island. O‘ahu had less than 5% of the total debris identified in the study, while Ni‘ihau had the most.
“In order to characterize the potential ecological consequences of tsunami and other debris, it’s important to quantify it,” said Kirsten Moy, the state’s marine debris coordinator. “Understanding the types, sizes and locations of debris accumulating on Hawaiian coastlines is crucial in developing plans to streamline removal and mitigate negative impacts.”
Brian Neilson is an aquatic invasive species biologist with the DLNR. He says O‘ahu’s low number is due to active beach cleanups from local environmental groups like the Surfrider Foundation or Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii.
Debris Hawaiian Islands debris from the earthquake and tsunami has been found across the Pacific, including in Hawaii where Japanese boats and other items have washed ashore.