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New hotline launched to report derelict fishing gear

By Staff | Jun 11, 2021

Marine debris is a major problem in West Maui and throughout the state.

According to the state Department of Land & Natural Resources (DLNR), derelict fishing gear, such as nets, is responsible for entangling turtles, humpback whales and other marine life.

It’s not hard to find marine debris and derelict fishing gear in our waters. During just a half-day Hard to Reach (H2R) coastal cleanup on April 27, volunteers collected 4,700 pounds of plastic pollution in Kahakuloa. Most of the debris was derelict fishing gear.

And to celebrate Earth Day the same month, Trilogy Excursions and other marine operators removed 2,000-plus feet of fishing line, 32 fishing hooks, 28 lead fishing weights, 75-plus pounds of general fishing gear, a ghost net and other debris from West Maui reefs from Olowalu to Ukumehame.

Recognizing the threat to our sensitive marine ecosystem, the state and four nonprofit organizations have teamed up to create a new statewide number to report marine debris.

Kristen Kelly with DLNR’s Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR), Protected Species Program noted, “The idea is to have people call in hazardous nets immediately. We can mount a rapid response to remove these nets from our shorelines as quickly as possible and before they drift back into the open ocean.”

The hotline has a distinct Hawaii flavor with a bit of pidgin thrown in: 833-4-Da-Nets (833-432-6387). It’s a collaboration between DAR and Sustainable Coastlines on Oahu, the Maui Ocean Center Marine Institute, Surfrider Foundation on Kauai and the Hawaii Wildlife Fund on Hawaii Island.

“Marine pollution, including abandoned, lost and discarded fishing nets, is one of the most significant threats impacting our ocean today,” said Tommy Cutt, the Maui Ocean Center Marine Institute’s executive director.

“The Marine Debris Rapid Response Hotline provides an opportunity for us to work collaboratively with our community to reduce threats facing marine life and ensure a healthy ocean for future generations.”

Many of the reported and collected ghost nets will go to a second good cause: for use in a research study by Hawaii Pacific University’s Center for Marine Debris Research (CMDR) to try to source them back to their origin in hopes of working with fisheries to prevent them in the first place.

Kelly concluded, “In addition to calling the hotline, we still want to encourage folks to also report debris through the state website. You can upload photos, and it ensures reporting of as much data as possible. This is especially helpful in reporting large or hazardous marine debris.”

Join in the effort by accessing DLNR’s marine debris response and removal reporting form at https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dobor/reportmarinedebrishawaii/.