26 Jul 2012

Nearly 50 metric tonnes of marine debris collected in Hawaii

2:21 pm on 26 July 2012

A United States federal agency has collected nearly 50 metric tonnes of marine debris in the north-western Hawaiian Islands.

A team of 17 scientists from the National Oceania and Atmospheric Administration recently completed a seven-week mission to remove debris in the area, an annual event that has taken place since 1996.

The Administration's marine ecosystems research specialist Mark Manuel says the team collected more than 600 lost or abandoned fishing nets and more than 23,000 pieces of other debris including plastics, buoys and bottle caps which all threaten the marine life.

"Primarily the effect of these derelict fishing gear is that it just gets caught on the reef, it damages coral substrate. It can pose a potentially lethal threat to our threatened Hawaiian monk seal, endangered green sea turtle, as well as other marine fauna."

Mark Manuel says the debris is converted into renewable energy to generate electricity on the island of Oahu.