Marine Debris Rapid Response

Marine Debris Rapid Response

A new Sustainable Coastlines Hawaiʻi program launching due to ghost nets plaguing Oʻahu coastlines.

SCH volunteers, Reid and Rachael, pulling a ghost net up Sherwoods Beach. Photo by Anna Velykodna.

What is Marine Debris Rapid Response?

We are launching our new Marine Debris Rapid Response program on Oʻahu, in coordination with the Hawaiʻi Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), that is designed to remove derelict fishing nets (ghost nets) washing up in coastal areas around the island. In partnership with the Department of Land and Natural Resources, the new network reduces wildlife entanglement risk from ghost nets that plague Hawaiiʻs coastlines. This program draws much needed attention to a marine pollution issue impacting our coastal environment, in an educational and informative way. Previously, we depended on coconut wireless or social media to alert us of a ghost net stranding. Now, we have a brand new hotline. Keep reading to learn more.

Ghost Net? Sounds Spooky.

No, weʻre not talking about some supernatural being, but they are seriously scary. Ghost nets are a lost or abandoned fishing net intentionally thrown into the ocean by commercial fishermen. These nets pose a HUGE threat to wildlife. Hereʻs the real kicker – guess what ghost nets are made from? Thatʻs right, plastic. So while the larger conglomerates threaten to entangle wildlife, they also have the potential to shed microfibers and contribute to the microplastics problem.

Ghost net along the east Molokaʻi coastline. Photo by Jacob Brighton.

How Can I Help?

Be on the lookout for hazardous ghost nets along Hawaiʻi coastlines. When you see a net, call:

833-4DA-NETS (833-432-6387)

Reports on Oʻahu are sent directly to the team of trained marine debris removal specialists (AKA: the Ghost Net Busters) who work together to safely remove ghost nets from the coastlines as soon as possible. This hotline can also be used for neighbor islands, where partner organizations like Maui Ocean Center Marine Institute (Maui), Surfrider Foundation - Kauaʻi Chapter (Kauaʻi), and Hawaiʻi Wildlife Fund (Hawaiʻi Island) will remove the nets reported.

Success Stories.

Over the last decade, we have successfully removed dozens (if not, hundreds) of ghost nets from Hawaiʻi coastlines. Even with this kind of experience under our belts, we still wanted to test out this program before launching it. So far during the pilot testing of the program, the Marine Debris Rapid Response team has removed nearly 10 ghost nets along Oʻahu beaches. These have ranged from short, 30 minute solo missions, to large team efforts over 3-5 hours.

Not on Oʻahu? We Still Need Your Help!

If you are on a neighbor island and come across a net along the coastline, you can still call the hotline to report it, or fill out this online form through DLNR. Otherwise, we welcome you to support in other ways to help us run this program. Donating can help us fund programs like these and continue to grow their impact. Following SCH on social media will keep you in the loop with all of the net removal action.

To learn more about ghost nets and their impact, we also recommend checking out Ocean Voyages Institute, Papahānaumokuākea Marine Debris Project, and Sea Shepherd, who are all doing the work to help remove these nets from ocean ecosystems.

Marine Debris Rapid Response hotline. Photo by Anna Velykodna at the SCH Sherwoods Thanksgiving Cleanup.