Major Lanai cleanup nets more than a thousand pounds

Marine debris on remote beaches

Published  11:39 PM HST Jul 24, 2012
B.E.A.C.H. volunteers
KANEOHE, Hawaii -

Piled on classroom tables at Hawaii Pacific University are the last bags of marine debris after months of tedious, back-breaking work, cleaning up Lanai's beaches.

"100 percent of albatrosses in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands have been found to be eating plastic," said Suzanne Frazer who is half of a team behind Beach Environmental Awareness Campaign Hawaii or B.E.A.C.H.

"There are over 20 pieces that have been ripped off a reef by this really thin net," she said pointing to chunks of net-covered coral.

Frazer and Dean Otsuki started a beach cleanup campaign 6 years ago.

This summer, the pair became part of a full partnership to pick-up, load-up, and ship off Lanai more than a thousand pounds of debris.

"It was completely full we had no more room left," she said over the container.

Young Brothers loaned them the container, HPU the room, the city, access to transfer stations.

H-Power burned it, keeping it out of landfills for good.

"We actually sort it into categories, write down info, count it, weigh it, and then it gets burned at H-power," she said.

Volunteers use heavy gloves in the cleanup. All the marine debris out in the open ocean is oil based plastics that attract the oil based chemicals such as DDT and PCBs.

It's a sea of debris spreading toxins, with more to come, said Frazer.

"It's pretty much Kauai, Oahu and Lanai that are facing the right direction to get a lot of debris hitting many different points. We knew that there needed to be a survey of that island before the tsunami debris came," she said.

Frazer said they're preparing to share their reports, and write more, to sound the alarm on a problem already in our backyard and everyone else's.

"People are starting to understand there is a garbage patch out there, but they also need to understand it's not something that's coming in the distant future or the near future its right here  

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