As part of an effort to restore coral reefs, a team of 17 scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, has collected around 50 metric tonnes of marine debris from Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
The Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument is one of the largest marine conservation areas in the world, covering an area of 139,797 square miles of the Pacific Ocean.
The scientists collected debris from the waters and shoreline around the northern most islands and atolls including, Kure Atoll, Midway Atoll, Pearl and Hermes Atoll, Lisianski Island and Laysan Island.
According to NOAA, around half the debris consisted of abandoned shipping gear and plastic from the Midway Atoll's shallow reefs.
Kyle Koyanagi,chief scientist for the mission said, "What surprises us is that after many years of marine debris removal in Papahanaumokuakea and more than 700 metric tons of debris later, we are still collecting a significant amount of derelict fishing gear from the shallow coral reefs and shorelines."
The marine debris removed as part of the coral restoration effort will be used to generate electricity under Hawaii's Nets to Energy Program, a public-private partnership. Since 2002, more than 730 metric tonnes of derelict nets have been used to fuel electricity generation. The power generated is enough to light up nearly 350 Hawaiian homes for a year, the NOAA said in a statement.
NOAA, whose principal mission is to conserve and preserve the nation's marine resources while trying to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, has undertaken marine debris removal missions annually since 1996.
by RTT Staff Writer
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