12,000 pounds of nets picked up from waters off Kaneohe

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The first big swell of the winter season is about to hit most of the island’s north shores overnight.

Not only will it bring in good surf, but it will also bring trash to certain beaches.

Two weeks ago Mary Crowley, Founder and Executive Director of Ocean Voyages Institute, and her team picked up 12,000 pounds, also equivalent to six tons, of ghost nets from waters just off Kaneohe Bay.

“Even though their abandoned nets they continue fishing and killing,” explained Crowley. “I find it interesting being Halloween week and we’re talking about ghost nets and how menacing they are in the ocean.”

Ghost nets can weigh hundreds sometimes thousands of pounds.

Crowley said she thinks the nets come from illegal fishing.

She said however that those nets left behind are killing whales, dolphins, turtles and other marine mammals.

“The nets are very effective killers. Things get killed, then eaten, and then decayed. So we’ve only found a couple of things alive from 10 years of cleanups.”

She said many turtle bones were found entangled in the nets found off Kaneohe.

Her team uses updated technology, like tracking devices, so boats that are out to sea and can’t lift the heavy nets onboard can tag them and her team can pick them up.

“The ocean sort of sorts through debris so 95% of the time when there’s one net there’s going to be a significant amount of other nets and other plastic debris in that.”>

Crowley is asking for the public’s help.

“We’d be interested in any seafaring people that spot nets in a certain area to call us up, or planes that spot nets to call us to. We do have a little funding remaining to allow us to do a little more cleaning before the whales come,” she said.

“One of my plans is to use fisherman to fish for consumer plastic so they can help do cleanup and I think fisherman should be paid to help do cleanup which also gives a chance for the fish stock to be restored,” she mentioned.

In the end, she hopes to raise enough money or full-time boats to help the cause.

“It’s my hope to find funding and other ways to help clean up the nets off Kaneohe Bay and other places in Hawaii where they accumulate so the reef system has a chance to stay healthy,” she said.

Her goal is to pick up 400 tons of debris and ghost nets in 2020.

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