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Taking out the trash — in the middle of the Pacific

May 20, 2016 Big city garbage trucks have it easy compared to the NOAA team that spent four weeks clearing the remote Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument of 12 tons of marine debris. They found some things you’d expect to find, such as derelict fishing gear and buoys and, somethings you wouldn’t, like cigarette lighters and rubber sandals.
Since 1996, NOAA has removed marine debris from Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in Hawaii, including 12 tons from this year's mission.

From April 12 to May 13, scientists and divers aboard NOAA Ship Hi`ialakai traveled to the monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islandsoffsite link, which stretch 1,200 miles northwest of the main Hawaiian Islands. There they collected lost or abandon fishing gear, consumer plastics and other debris from Midway, Kure, and Pearl and Hermes atolls, Lisianski island, and French Frigate Shoals.

Since 1996, NOAA and its multi-agency partners have removed debris from these primarily uninhabited islands and atolls each year. Marine debris is one of the biggest threats to ocean life. Birds, turtles, fish and marine mammals can ingest it, mistaking it for food, which often leads to starvation. Fishing nets can also be a danger by wrapping around and breaking corals or by trapping and drowning animals.

Though marine debris is one of our ocean’s biggest problems, it is a preventable one — disposing of trash responsibly before it enters our waterways is the key.

Learn moreoffsite link about the 2016 NOAA mission.

Since 1996, NOAA has removed marine debris from Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hawaii, including 12 tons from this year's mission. (NOAA)
Marine debris removal in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands
Since 1996, NOAA has removed marine debris from Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hawaii, including 12 tons from this year's mission. (NOAA) (NOAA)