Tuesday | September 01, 2015
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Coastal cleanup

HILO — Volunteers across the island scoured the shoreline last Saturday during the 27th annual International Coastal Cleanup, scooping up more than a ton of debris. But if you missed the cleanup, never fear. There are more cleanup days scheduled in the coming weeks.

Sixty-one people joined the Hawaii Wildlife Fund’s “Get the Drift & Bag It!” event, cleaning a 1-mile stretch from Kamilo Point to Kaluahonu in Ka‘u. Participants included the University of Hawaii at Hilo’s marine debris science class, the Orchidland Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints youth group and a crew of five from the San Diego-based Pacific Beach Shoreclub, according to Megan Lamson, HWF debris project coordinator.

The group collected about 2,760 pounds of junk, including about 1,000 pounds of fishing net bundles, Lamson said. Also in the mix of 141,759 pieces of stuff were 90,004 plastic fragments, 26,228 bottle or container caps, 2,550 oyster spacers, 1,380 aluminum or tin cans, 120 tires, 71 rubber slippers and 252 plastic bags.

At the Kailua Pier, Jack’s Diving Locker coordinated a cleanup where 14 divers in two hours removed more than 250 glass beer bottles, at least 20 pounds of tangled monofilament line, fishing lures, two trash bags full of rope and line, numerous aluminum cans and food containers and golf balls, money and credit and identification cards.

“It’s amazing the things that get caught on stuff, especially on the fishing line,” said Kirk Shorte, of Shortini Photography. “The fishing line is the most insidious stuff out there; it gets caught on everything.”

Keep Puako Beautiful’s goal is to clean up sites along six miles of coast along the Ala Kahakai Historical Trail, from Waialea to Holoholoka, over the course of several weeks. Blue Wilderness Dive Adventures assists with the diving and recovery of marine debris from the Puako Boat Ramp area, according to Cynthia Ho, Keep Puako Beautiful site coordinator.

“Because the coast is 6 miles long, we do it all in one day,” Ho said.

Ho said Saturday’s group was smaller than usual, because of several other events — including a parade and a fair — that same day.

The tallies for all the cleanups are sent to the Ocean Conservancy, which has coordinated the event since its inception. For the past seven years, the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration Marine Debris Program has helped fund the effort. Volunteers in more than 96 participating countries head out to clean up their local beaches, waterways and even neighborhoods. Over the past 26 years, more than 9 million volunteers have removed 153,790,918 pounds of trash, according to NOAA.

“There should be a permanent solution to the trash problem at the pier,” said Patti Clay, a Jack’s Dive Club member. “I specifically looked for pieces of plastic including plastic straws because turtles will eat this material.”

Care to lend a hand or your support for ongoing cleanup events?

Keep Puako Beautiful is looking for volunteers who will snorkel, dive and land clean for Get The Drift & Bag It cleanups on Saturday at Paniau, and Tuesday at Beach 67.

Contact Cynthia Ho at marho17@hawaii.rr.com for more information.

On Oct. 28, a “Rise Above Plastics” cleanup will be held at Champagne Ponds in Puna, hosted by Hawaii Wildlife Fund and Surfrider Foundation Hilo (facebook.com/pages/Surfrider-Foundation-Hilo-Chapter/213691888646842?ref=ts). A potluck barbecue will follow.

Hawaii Wildlife Fund will be hosting regular Ka‘u Coastal Cleanups on Nov. 17 and Jan. 12.