Commercial fishermen offered a bounty to restore abandoned catches off the coast of Hawaii.
Those who make a living on the high seas now have the opportunity to participate in parallel environmental clean-up activities at the same time.
Commercial fishermen have been offered a “reward” to salvage discarded fishing gear and return the debris to shore, often responsible for the deaths of marine animals.
Hawaii Pacific University’s Center for Marine Litter Research has launched a project to pay commercial fishermen to remove their fishing gear at sea before it hits coral reefs or wildlife. Hawaii, according to a university press release.
Fishermen receive rewards of $1 to $3 per dry pound for derelict fishing gear found at sea and returned to Oahu, the research center said.
The research center first tested the program in 2020 and 2021, when researchers tried to determine where fishing gear came from paid fishermen fishing near the main Hawaiian islands of Northwestern Hawaii. and the North Pacific Ocean. Raquel Korniuk, research manager at Hawaii Pacific University’s Center for Marine Debris Research, told ABC News.
“That way, when they come across these things, they’re incentivized, and then they can get paid to bring it back,” Korniuk said.
The research center recognized a “ship of opportunity” after beginning to receive positive feedback from participating fishermen, Korniuk said.
Today, the program, in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Program, the Hawaii Longline Association, and the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, has enough funds to pay for the removal of 100 metric tons, or 220,462 pounds. abandoned fishing gear in the next two years.
According to The Nature Conservancy, fishing gear accounts for an “alarming” amount of plastic in the ocean. According to a 2021 report, more than 100 million pounds of plastic pollution from lost or abandoned industrial fishing gear enters the ocean each year.
Pollution is one of the most harmful forms of marine debris to marine animals and habitats.
Fishing gear entangles and drowns animals such as sea turtles, whales and sharks, and suffocates coastal coral reefs, the research center says.
According to Korniuk, most of the pollution that ends up on Hawaii’s beaches comes from derelict fishing gear.
“When I first saw the damage these giant ghost nets were doing to corals in Keinohi Bay, I was motivated to stop it,” Korniuk said, describing the new program. as a “win-win” for fishermen and the marine environment. , especially since fishing gear can be a hazard to navigation and often gets stuck on ships.
According to the research center, the trash is reused by artists, educators and recycling researchers. The remaining waste is converted into electricity for the City and County of Honolulu.
According to the research center, the university is conducting another study to determine where the discarded fishing gear came from, possibly not from Hawaii’s fisheries.
“Abandoned fishing gear and ghost nets are an ongoing economic and environmental threat to Hawaii,” Mark Manuel, Pacific Islands Regional Coordinator for NOAA’s Marine Litter Program, said in a statement. informed. “Our main goal is to have a litter-free sea.”
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