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Marine debris reporting hotline launched

Marine debris litters the Kahoolawe shoreline during a cleanup on Dec. 4, 2015. — Photo courtesy of DLNR

The state and four nonprofits have created a new hotline to report derelict fishing gear responsible for entangling marine life including turtles and whales.

The hotline, 833-4-Da-Nets (833-432-6387) is a collaboration between the Department of Land and Natural Resources’ Division of Aquatic Resources as well as the Maui Ocean Center Marine Institute, Sustainable Coastlines on Oahu, Surfrider Foundation on Kauai and the Hawaii Wildlife Foundation on Hawaii island.

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

Kristin Kelly with the DAR Protected Species Program explained that “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,” Kelly said.

Debris collected during a cleanup on Kahoolawe on Dec. 4, 2015, is airlifted into a container. — Photo courtesy of DLNR

Many of the reported and collected ghost nets will go toward use in a research study by Hawaii Pacific University’s Center for Marine Debris Research. The study aims to source the nets back to their origin in hopes of working with fisheries to prevent them in the first place.

“In addition to calling the hotline, we still want to encourage folks to also report debris through the state website,” Kelly said. “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.”

Marine debris can be reported for removal at dlnr.hawaii.gov/dobor/reportmarinedebrishawaii/.

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