Two Marine Debris Program staffers are participating in NOAA’s annual mission to remove derelict nets and other marine debris from sensitive coral reefs and shorelines in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, one of the largest marine conservation areas in the world. An estimated 52 tons of derelict fishing gear washes up in the Monument each year, threatening the pristine ecosystem. Follow their journey.
By: Dianna Parker
Mission Log 1
The NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette is on its way to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands where – for about 33 days – a team of 17 trained divers from NOAA’s Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC) will survey and remove derelict fishing nets and plastics from the sensitive coral reefs, shallow waters, and shorelines of the remote Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. The Sette will stop at Maro Reef, Laysan Island, Lisianski Island, Pearl and Hermes Atoll, and Midway Atoll.
Here’s the crew before embarking:
NOAA has led this marine debris removal mission for nearly 20 years, removing a total of 769 metric tons of debris. The efforts have varied in size year-to-year, depending on the available resources and partners, but one thing remains the same: huge amounts of marine debris collects in the Monument every year, threatening the corals and marine life that depend on this vast, pristine ecosystem.
Two NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP) staffers – Pacific Islands regional coordinator Kyle Koyanagi and I – went along this year to help out. It can be hard to envision an operation this far away from any city – hundreds of miles northwest of the main Hawaiian Islands – so Kyle and I are bringing it to you. The MDP is a partner in this mission, along with NOAA’s Damage Assessment Remediation and Restoration Program, PIFSC, and the Monument.
Do you know what it takes to be a marine debris diver? Any idea how to say Papahānaumokuākea? We’ll post mission blogs on what it’s like to live aboard a NOAA ship, interviews with the crew, as well as factoids about each place we stop. Of course, we’ll let you know what marine debris we find there and how much we manage to remove.
You can follow along on this blog or read more in-depth about the issue on the Marine Debris Program website. If you have any questions for us, we’re also on Twitter, Facebook, and good old-fashioned email at email@example.com.