Ship collects marine debris in Pacific

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NOAA said it has collected tons of marine debris, which threatens monk seals, sea turtles and other marine life in the coral reef ecosystem in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

The NOAA ship Oscar Elton Sette arrived back in its home port of Honolulu a week ago after a month in Papah?naumoku?kea Marine National Monument.

The team of 17 scientists collected nearly 55 tons of discarded fishing gear. NOAA has conducted annual removal missions of marine debris in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands since 1996 as part of a coral restoration effort.

“What surprises us is that after many years of marine debris removal in Papah?naumoku?kea and more than 775 tons of debris later, we are still collecting a significant amount of derelict fishing gear from the shallow coral reefs and shorelines,” Kyle Koyanagi, marine debris operations manager at NOAA Fisheries’ Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center and chief scientist for the mission, said in the release. “The ship was at maximum capacity and we did not have any space for more debris.”

Click here for the full press release with photos.