LIHUE — From cleaning beaches and marine debris education to publishing scientific papers, Kauai’s Surfrider chapter was busy in 2018.
Part of a nationwide organization, the Kauai chapter’s recent focuses have been on promoting awareness for marine debris, gathering data on water quality, and fostering community outreach and buy-in through programs like the Ocean Friendly Restaurants and Ocean Friendly Gardens.
And while the entity has results from all of those programs, officers say across the board a lot of focus was put on education and outreach in 2018.
Carl Berg, with the Blue Water Task Force, was in classrooms teaching water quality testing.
Barbara Weidner spent much of the year visiting classrooms and talking about marine debris and its impact to Hawaii’s wildlife.
Monika Mira organized art projects for students across the island using plastics that washed ashore on Kauai, using marine debris to create masks with fifth-graders, a mural at Anaina Hou, and taught people how to make Christmas wreathes from fishing nets.
A total of 26 restaurants were certified as Ocean Friendly in 2018, pledging to use no polystyrene foam, follow proper recycling practices, provide straws and disposable utensils only on request, and nixing the plastic bags for takeout orders.
And 2018 brought the total of Ocean Friendly Gardens on Kauai to 18, three on the North Shore, one on the South Shore, one in Lihue and 13 on Kauai’s East Side.
These are gardeners who have committed to maintaining without using toxic chemicals and gardeners who minimize runoff leaving the property.
In the midst of honoring those who are making environmentally friendly choices, collecting data for further study, and educating the keiki about the impacts of marine debris, Kauai Surfrider officials say it’s about involvement, education and awareness.
Throughout the year, volunteers with the organization picked up more than 51.8 metric tons of marine debris through cleanups. Over the past two years, the organization has averaged 10,039 pounds of debris every month.
“We engaged schools at all levels, community organizations and visiting groups of tourists in cleaning beaches of their choice (in 2018),” Weidner said in the organization’s 2018 report. “Community outreach consisted of classroom lectures on problems of marine debris at 11 different schools.”