(BIVN) – A group of environmentally-minded non-profits across Hawaiʻi island were busy this past week, helping to clean beaches around the Big Island.
Several NGO groups hosted five beach cleanup events in concert with Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup, as they removed trash and litter along beaches in Kaʻū, Kona, Kohala and Hilo.
The Hawaiʻi Wildlife Fund said that over the course of three days, more than one ton (2,000 pounds) of marine debris was removed from the Hawaiʻi shoreline.
From a news release shared by the clean-up participants:
Hawaiʻi Wildlife Fund (HWF) teamed up with Sea Cleaners NZ, that brought a group of visiting youth and young-adult ocean ambassadors from New Zealand, Australia and Oʻahu, to help support cleanup efforts in Kaʻū with HWF, and in Kohala with Pololū community stewards. The dozen ambassadors (ages 16 to 20 year-olds) also lead environmental education lessons in classrooms from Konawaena Middle and High School to Kohala High School during their time on Hawaiʻi Island. HWF community-based cleanup events are funded by private donations and a 2021 NOAA Marine Debris Program competitive grant award, and this Sea Cleaners youth ambassador trip was supported by the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority, Hawaiian Airlines, and Billabong Australia.
“Over 100 bags of ocean pollution were removed from the coastline between Ka Lae and Kamilo with support from community volunteers and the ocean ambassadors with Sea Cleaners during two cleanup events last week. We were able to remove over 1,850 pounds of marine debris, including an estimated 400 pounds of derelict fishing net bundles, and divert approximately 500 pounds of of plastic pollution from the landfill by collaborating with local artist, Don Elwing of Sea Love. Together, we can stem the rising tide of trash and better protect our native wildlife and coastal communities.” – Megan Lamson / HWF Hawaiʻi Program Director
“We’ve made a lot of progress, but there is still much to do. That’s why — even 20 years in — we still measure every day in bags of rubbish removed from the water – this isn’t the kind of problem you can solve overnight with a silver bullet, it takes consistent effort every day. It will require ongoing work from all of us, from governments to companies and individual people, to shift the health of our oceans back towards where they need to be.” – Captain Hayden Smith / Sea Cleaners Founder
A Kona-based nonprofit, Clean Rewards, also teamed up with Tan & Salty Hawaiʻi to host a community cleanup event on Saturday, September 16th at Old Kona Airport with an educational booth by The Marine Mammal Center, beginning with with a yoga class from The Yoga Nest. They had 15 volunteers who helped to remove 10 pounds of trash, primarily small pieces of litter (e.g., microplastics, cigarette butts, bottle caps), including 501 cigarette butts!
“Small sustainable changes create ripples to help change the future.” – Aaron Draime / Clean Rewards Founder
Also on Saturday, the Marine Option Program (MOP) lead 16 University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo (UHH) students to clean along the Hilo coastline from the mouth of Wailoa River (near Hilo Bay Café and Liliʻuokalani Gardens) to the old Uncle Billy’s Hotel. This MOP dream team removed an estimated 150-200 pounds of trash, including many old bike parks, broken glass fragments and miscellaneous accumulated litter from abandoned homeless encampments. Fishing line collected that day was added to the monofilament line bins that were previously installed by a past UHH MOP student, and are currently being maintained by the Hawaiʻi DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources’ Protected Species Program staff.
Want to get involved? Support upcoming legislation to reduce the amount of single-use plastics in Hawaiʻi County. Try your best to eliminate disposable items from your daily lives, and join in for a community or coastal cleanup event near you! You can check out cleanup calendars on various NGO websites or ask HWF about their do-it-yourself beach cleanup tips for local County / State beach parks and along public trails.
Hawaiʻi Wildlife Fund has removed over 325 tons (650,000 pounds) of marine debris from the shores of Hawaiʻi Island since 2003 (over 90% of which was recovered from along the remote Kaʻū coastline) with help from over 60,000 hours of volunteer labor.
Clean Rewards has removed over 16,000 pounds of litter since they were founded in 2018. Clean Rewards will have a station at the Hokulia Bypass Cleanup hosted by Miss Kona Coffee 2023, Shyla Victor, on Saturday, September 23rd from 9 to 11:30AM with kids events and entertainment to follow in the Keauhou Shopping Center from 12 to 3PM.
Keep Puakō Beautiful hosted their first ICC event last weekend (September 9, 2023) from Paniau to the Hokuloa Church (in Puakō). They are hosting their final ICC event at Spencer’s Beach Park on Sunday, October 27th from 9AM to noon.
Sea Cleaners have five full-time boats that are deployed around Auckland and Northland’s sea to remove litter and marine debris. Since their foundation in 2002, their team has removed over 15,500,000 liters of litter in New Zealand.