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Marine Debris a Growing Concern, Piles Found at Waiehu

Posted April 12, 2012, 10:41 AM HST Updated April 12, 2012, 10:54 AM HST

Marine Debris at Waiehu on Maui. Photo by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

Crews from the Community Work Day Program on Maui plan to assess reports of large tangled piles of netting and debris reported along the shoreline of the Waiehu Golf Course.

Maui resident Mike Moran said he learned of the situation over a month ago on March 6, when a female golfer called in to his televised talk show on Akaku to ask what could be done.

The complainant said that both the county and state DLNR were advised of the situation and the logical danger that a storm source or larger wave break could have, by potentially pulling the mess into the ocean.

Marine Debris at Waiehu on Maui. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Concerns were also raised about the potential to exacerbate what Moran described as “an already critical problem” of marine life becoming trapped.

The piles of netting and ropes are located along the rocky shoreline of the Waiehu Golf Course, north of the 6th hole.

State officials say a land agent from the Department of Land and Natural Resources was sent out to assess the area and found one pile sitting under some trees, half buried in the sand.

Removing piles of debris can be as easy as cutting apart light weight cargo netting often seen in small jobs; or as difficult as utilizing trucks and machinery to haul away big piles that are sand heavy, hard to pull, and not easily cut by hand.

Marine Debris at Waiehu on Maui. Photo by Wendy Osher.

State officials said, “usually debris removal is the responsibility of the landowner, but each case has its own specifics.”

DLNR Information Specialist Deborah Ward responded to an email inquiry saying, “hopefully the County will be able to address the pile of nets since they have direct access via their golf course.”

County Environmental Coordinator, Rob Parsons, said the county is working in coordination with the Community Work Day program, which has the ability to respond to such incidents with more immediacy.

“You get into situation with whether it’s state or county jurisdiction since the high wash of the waves delineates the shoreline,” said Parsons who agreed that situations such as these are handled on a case by case basis.

Parsons noted that the area is along Maui’s northeast facing shoreline, which tends to get the brunt of the island’s marine debris.

Smaller remnants of netting are found to the east of the bigger piles. Photo by Wendy Osher.

The Community Work Day’s Matt Lane agreed that the area between the ropes challenge course in Waiehu to the Big Lefts surf spot near Kahului Harbor tends to have larger amounts of debris reports that other parts of the island.  Debris often gets reported on the north side of Hana Bay in East Maui as well.


Parson’s, who is also the county point person for the Japan Tsunami marine debris discussion, said he does not believe the netting is associated with the Japan debris field.  He is planning ahead, though, to make sure cleanup crews are in place should any of that debris surface in the islands.

“We haven’t seen an increase yet, but even if it’s twice as much it would be concerning,” said Lane.

“Regardless of what was swept into the sea , which may or may not reach our shores, marine debris is an everyday problem.  The best tool for teaching is beach cleanups,” said Parsons.

He said two such cleanups are planned in the coming weeks in the general area, including: a Surfrider cleanup at Kahului Harbor on April 21; and a private cleanup led by Paukulalo resident Duke Sevilla, also on April 21.

Meantime, Lane said an assessment will be made by the Community Work Day program by the beginning of next week.

“For sure by beginning of next week we will identify what needs to happen, and hopefully by end of next week should have the piles removed or at least a plan in place if its a larger job,” said Lane.

On another note, Lane was given a unique last minute invitation through the County of Maui to sail as a representative on a voyage through the Gyre to Japan.  The voyage will educate participants and raise awareness of the issues associated with Tsunami debris.

Lane said the voyage will provide “factual, correct, and informing data that will help the County of Maui on a grassroots level.”

Lane is trying to raise $3,000 by this Friday for a commitment deposit to secure his spot.

“We really need some local organizations that represent clean ups like CWD on this trip,” said Lane.

“It would be invaluable for me to come back and present this experience/information to the community,” he said.

More information on the voyage and how the public can help is available at the following direct link: http://www.indiegogo.com/forMaui.


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