LIHU‘E — Surfrider Foundation’s Kaua‘i Chapter is excited to announce the completion of its third “Operation Airlift” – the helicopter-assisted removal of nets and other marine debris from remote locations along the Kaua‘i coast.
In collaboration with Jack Harter Helicopters, the two-day airlift of 78 super sacks, averaging 275 lbs. each took place on Aug. 23 and 24, and was the culmination of a cleanup that began in June of this year. In addition, other large debris that could not fit in the Super Sacs, such as pallets, large plastic pipes, buoys and fishing bins were also airlifted out.
“Late last year, we began to scope out the tremendous amount of plastic on the remote coastline south of Moloa’a. Made up of 70% nets, the debris is dangerous for whales, seals and other marine life, and also interferes with delicate marine ecosystems – but was impossible to get to during the rough winter surf,” Surfrider Kaua‘i’s Vice-Chair and Co-Coordinator for Beach Cleanup and Net Patrol Barbara Wiedner said.
“Therefore, in June of this year, with calmer summer surf and dedicated teams of 5-12 core Surfrider Kaua‘i Net Patrol volunteers – maneuvering along difficult terrain to the beaches – we began collecting the debris in Super Sacs,” Wiedner added.
After more than two months of collection, the eight-member Jack Harter team airlifted the items to a private property where, over the next several weeks, volunteers from Timbers Resort will bring them to Surfrider Kaua‘i’s Marine Debris Processing Center in Kapa’a for disposal and recycling.
Operation Airlift was coordinated by Scott McCubbins, Surfrider Kaua‘i’s Treasurer and Co-Coordinator of Beach Cleanup and Net Patrol.
“First, I want to thank our amazing core Net Patrol volunteers, who dedicate their time and energy every week. This is a team accomplishment that wouldn’t be possible without their commitment and dedication,” McCubbins said.
“But, we must look at the root of the problem,” McCubbins said. “About 85% of the abandoned nets and other fishing-related plastics come from the commercial fishing industry. There are rules for the disposal of these items, and we must work toward ensuring that these rules are enforced.”
Operation Airlift is a part of Surfrider Foundation’s Net Patrol program, started in 2007, with alerts that ghost fishing nets were washing up on local beaches. Today, weekly patrols target areas where nets and other harmful plastics are reported.
To report nets and other marine debris, call the Surfrider Kaua‘i Net Patrol Hotline at 808-635-2593.