Clean beaches power homes

KAPAA — It took just seven months to fill up another 20-foot Matson container with nets scavenged from Kauai’s beaches, and Saturday the debris will be shipped to Oahu.

“It’s a credit to our outstanding volunteers who go out weekly to get derelict fishing nets off of Kauai’s coastline,” said Scott McCubbins, leader of Surfrider Kauai’s Net Patrol. “We have an amazing core group of volunteers who offer their free time and trucks to make this happen.”

The majority of the nets collected by the group were found on the Eastside beaches of Kauai, and much of the debris — nets included — float in from other places.

But not all of it.

“Even though most of what we find drifts in, we need to address single-use plastic and Styrofoam either voluntarily or legislatively,” said Surfrider Kauai’s spokesman Dr. Robert Zelkovsk. “Surfrider, the county and the state need to be more proactive and take care of our own pollution.”

In 2015 alone the group removed more than 37,000 pounds of marine debris and trash from Kauai beaches, and sent it all to Oahu.

The last 20-foot container full of marine debris was sent to Oahu in March, and that shipment was also the result of seven months’ worth of work. During that time, beach-cleanup volunteers collected 14 tons of nets that were sent to Oahu and 14 bins of hard plastic that were sent to the Mainland.

Nets are sent to Schnitzer Steel, which cuts them up and passes them on to the H-Power waste-to-energy plant, which burns it to produce electricity for some homes on Oahu.

Plastics are sent to the Mainland to be recycled and made into hand-soap bottles with the company Method, but things are changing when it comes to recycling the debris collected.

“We are in the process of setting up alternative methods for recycling nets and plastics,” McCubbins said.

Though there are changes in the wings for the recycling part of Net Patrol, the details haven’t been hashed out yet, and McCubbins is concentrating on the need to remove more from Kauai’s coastlines.

“We know we have many nets and other marine debris that haven’t been collected,” McCubbins said. “So, we are always looking for new members and volunteers to help out.”

To join Surfrider’s Net Patrol cleanups, or to report a net or other large marine debris item, call Barbara Wiedner, beach cleanup coordinator for Surfrider Kauai, at 635-2593.

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