KAPAA — A washed-up fishing net estimated to weigh a couple thousand pounds is troubling marine life activists who fear it could entangle monk seals, dolphins and other creatures if it’s left at shore.
Surfrider Foundation’s Kauai Chapter and monk seal watch volunteers are seeking help from residents from 7 to 10 this morning to dismantle and remove the net from the rocky coast across the road from the Kaiakea fire station.
Barbara Wiedner, Surfrider’s beach cleanup and net control coordinator, said the fishing net is a conglomeration of about 25 different nets tangled together. Wiedner said it appears to have floated to Kauai from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a vortex of marine debris that lies in an area between Hawaii and California.
“It was way out on the point and monk seals were getting within 10 feet of it,” Wiedner said. “We were watching it for a couple days and it has finally come to a rest on some rocks very close to the fire station.
“Our goal is to get the net before it goes back out to sea where it can injure and kill sea life. This is a really dangerous piece of marine debris and we want to get it out and away from the water as soon as possible.”
When the tide is low, volunteers will gather at the site of the net and try to remove it. During high tide the net gets lifted off the rocks and starts floating in the water.
Volunteers will use knives to cut the net into pieces, and those pieces will be transported to Restore Kauai in Kapaa to be stored. When there’s enough net to fill a shipping container, the material will be shipped to Oahu where it will be burned for electricity.
Community members can also take pieces of net for art or gardening projects.
So far this year, Surfrider volunteers have spent 1,200 hours removing nearly 15,000 pounds of debris from the coastline. Fishing nets account for about a third of that weight.