Hawai‘i residents and visitors can help clean up the ocean and save marine life by making a simple phone call when they see debris washed up on the shoreline.
Six thousand pounds of derelict fishing gear was removed from Hawai’i shorelines in 2021 before it could be washed back out to sea. Nonprofit organizations 4ocean and Sustainable Coastlines Hawai‘i remind people to report washed up marine debris, including boats, large accumulations of trash and fishing gear or nets, especially ghost nets.
Anyone who sees washed up marine debris can call the 833-4-da-nets hotline. The service is a collaboration between the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Aquatic Resources and several other organizations on the Big Island, Kaua‘i, O‘ahu and Maui.
“Ghost nets, abandoned or lost nets, pose a huge danger to marine animals around the world,” said Mimi Olry with the Division of Aquatic Resources in a press release.
Derelict and discarded fishing nets and other marine debris are hazardous to marine life and have entangled, and in some cases killed, many of marine endangered species in Hawai‘i such as whales, monk seals and sea turtles.
“These nets, as they float in the ocean, attract small juvenile species, which in turn attract larger feeding fish and marine mammals,” Olry said in the release. “Nets were created to entrap and are often nearly invisible in dim light. Once trapped, animals like fish, dolphins, seals, whales, sharks and birds starve to death or drown struggling to get free.”
As these nets move through the ocean, other ropes and nets can become snagged, and if caught on near-shore reefs, tear and destroy corals until they finally wash up on shore, she added.
“There, they often continue to entangle innocent animals that may lay on it or explore it,” Olry said in the release.