Catch Up and Keep Up: A Strategy for Marine Debris Mitigation in Papahānaumokuākea

November 17, 2022

Kevin O'Brien, President, and James Morioka, Executive Director, Papahānaumokuākea Marine Debris Project

Last month, the Papahānaumokuākea Marine Debris Project (PMDP) wrapped up their 2022 field season, successfully removing over 200,000 pounds of marine debris from the reefs and shorelines of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Despite being one of the most acute problems facing the monument, marine debris is fortunately one of the most easily mitigated problems, given enough time and resources. As federal government cleanups dwindled in the second decade of the 2000's, a backlog of marine debris (particularly derelict fishing gear) began to accumulate in this sensitive environment. Since its inception in 2019, PMDP has been working hard to increase the cadence of removal efforts in the monument to address this. Under PMDP's nonprofit leadership, 2022 marked year #1 of a strategic five-year plan to "catch up" with backlogged accumulation and "keep up" with new annual influx. Through intensive removal, this ambitious goal aims to reduce the impacts of marine debris to their lowest practicable levels, giving the wildlife of Papahānaumokuākea the best long-term chance of survival. Join us for an hour of stories from the field highlighting the challenges and successes of this remote and difficult work.

This presentation is part of the Third Thursday By the Bay Presentation Series at Mokupāpapa Discovery Center, which is the visitor center for Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hilo, Hawaiʻi. This lecture series is also supported by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation through a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.