The Blog Aquatic » hawaii http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Thu, 28 Aug 2014 17:32:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Implementing Solutions in our “Plasticene Epoch” http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/06/16/implementing-solutions-in-our-plasticene-epoch/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/06/16/implementing-solutions-in-our-plasticene-epoch/#comments Mon, 16 Jun 2014 18:22:33 +0000 Nick Mallos http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=8547

Photo: Nick Mallos

Plastics are everywhere. And by that I don’t just mean in the physical sense, but also in terms of the media. Everywhere I look lately newspaper and blog headlines are focused on the increased pervasiveness of plastic pollution in our ocean.

In the New York Times’ Sunday Review, the Editorial Board highlighted the plasticization that’s taking place “From Beach to Ocean” around the world. Their focus was Kamilo Point, Hawaii. For the past decade, the Hawaii Wildlife Fund has worked tirelessly to keep Kamilo clean from the onslaught of plastic pollution that washes ashore daily by removing almost 350,000 pounds of debris. I’ve had the personal (mis)fortune of working at Kamilo and in some places I measured plastics densities upwards of 84,000 pieces per square meter of beach. These plastics are not in the form of bottles or caps or bags but rather the fragmented, millimeter-sized version of their original consumer product form. And on a nearby beach at Kamilo, geologists have identified a new kind of plastic-infused rock that will NEVER break down.


It’s not just about the beaches of Hawaii though. Scientists participating in a NCEAS Working Group, sponsored by Ocean Conservancy, reported to National Geographic that “…we’re going to have millions of tons of plastic going into the ocean.”  And we know the pathway to harm associated with plastics is very real:  plastics enter the ocean, marine wildlife ingests or becomes entangled in these plastics, and then many of these animals suffer mortality due to either the physical or toxicological effect of these interactions. The only question remaining is how big of impact are these plastics having and should we, as humans, be worried about the threat of these plastics via seafood on our dinner plate? Personally, I’m concerned.

News reports have focused on solutions too. Concepts of an ocean cleanup solution have captivated the public and media alike while Baltimore’s Water Wheel is seeking to keep trash from ever reaching the ocean in the first place. Waste management expert, Ted Siegler, told National Geographic that abating ocean plastic pollution is largely a problem of insufficient infrastructure. “In many ways, this is really simple. This is putting trucks on the road and picking up the garbage and bringing it to a proper place…But none of that is occurring in almost all of the places that I’ve been working in the last 20 years.” We agree strongly with Mr. Siegler’s perspective on the issue.

Cleanups are an important part of the solution, but we believe that in order to truly stop the plastics crisis from progressing, we must stop plastics from reaching the ocean in the first place. This is not a vote against the longer term re-think that needs to happen in terms of a circular economy or regenerative consumption, but it is a way to stop the avalanche of plastics from doing very serious and systemic damage in the decade (or two) to come. This means looking to developing nations where increasing populations and affluence are fueling a desire for the single use disposable plastics that have been a part of our society for decades, but where even the most basic of waste management infrastructure does not yet exist. Doing so will require working with the most capable and sophisticated corporations on this planet to partner with governments to remedy these basic waste management needs.

I encourage everyone to tune in today and tomorrow for the Our Ocean Conference hosted by Secretary of State, John Kerry. Our CEO, Andreas Merkl, will present our long term plan to stem the tide of ocean plastics and asking the many governments, industry members and leading NGOs in the room to join us in this endeavor. We must embrace a shared responsibility to manage the world’s waste. If we don’t, the oceans will continue to suffer.

 

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This Week’s Top Tweets: January 19 – 25 http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/01/26/this-weeks-top-tweets-january-19-25/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/01/26/this-weeks-top-tweets-january-19-25/#comments Sat, 26 Jan 2013 16:42:11 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=4420 It’s time to recap the Ocean Conservancy tweets that made the most waves (get it?) in the past week. Check out our top five and let us know which one piqued your interest the most!

1. Would You Like Some Fish with Your Plastic?

This was our top tweet of the week and it’s no wonder why–finding out that over one third of a given sample of fish have plastic in their bellies is downright creepy. This study by Plymouth University and the UK Marine Biological Association illustrates the tangible effects that trash has on our ocean. If you’re looking for ways to lessen your impact and to keep the ocean healthy, try downloading our mobile app, Rippl. You’ll get weekly ocean-friendly tips and be able to track your progress!

2. Welcome to the Plastic Beach

While this isn’t nearly as enjoyable as the Gorillaz song “Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach,” news about the amount of plastic at Kamilo Point in Hawaii certainly gave it a realistic perspective in the Twittersphere this week. Our expert Nick Mallos reported that the so-called “Junk Beach” was the most plastic-laden one he’s ever seen–and that’s after 240,000 lbs. of microplastics have been removed by the Hawaii Wildlife Fund since 2003.

3. Skip the Landfill–Donate Instead!

Our five suggestions for donating those random things hanging around your home that you’ll never use resonated well with our followers, ranking third on our top tweets list this week. Another helpful addition (courtesy of one of our Facebook friends): donate your time!

4. Forget About Last Year’s Tsunami? The Ocean Hasn’t

Our field guide for tsunami debris tells you what the most common forms of debris are–and what you should do if and when you find it.

5. Colorful Corals–But Why?

This tweet got a lot of attention largely because it asks a question we’ve all probably wondered at one point or another, but never really knew the answer. In this case, there’s more to beauty than meets the eye!

As always, we’ll be tweeting on a daily basis from @OurOcean, so make sure to follow us for all the latest ocean news, Ocean Conservancy blog posts, fun trivia and more!

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Aloha, Plastics: Ocean Trash Adventures in Hawaii http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/01/15/aloha-plastics-ocean-trash-adventures-in-hawaii/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/01/15/aloha-plastics-ocean-trash-adventures-in-hawaii/#comments Tue, 15 Jan 2013 20:15:40 +0000 Nick Mallos http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=4225

Neither tsunami debris nor marine debris is going away any time soon. Following an August 2012 NGO tsunami meeting and increasing reports of tsunami debris on the U.S. West Coast and Hawaii, concern and interest about tsunami debris in Japan continues to increase. Responding to this interest, the Environmental Restoration and Conservation Agency of Japan has funded a series of beach site investigations in the United States to convey the present situation of both tsunami and marine debris to Japan officials and the Japanese people. The first stop for these surveys:  Hawaii.

I teamed up with members from Japan Environmental Action Network (JEAN), the Oceanic Wildlife Society and the Japan Ministry of Environment tobegin surveys on O’ahu beaches where confirmed and suspected tsunami debris has recently been found . During our first inspection at Hanauma Bay, we examined a rusted Japanese refrigerator that washed ashore on December 20th, 2012, several days before a second fridge was found on Waimanalo Beach. Cleanup volunteers commonly found refrigerator pieces on Kaua’i beaches during this past summer.

Dr. Nikolai Maximenko of the University of Hawaii International Pacific Research Center (IPRC) explained that these different ‘waves’ of alike debris (e.g., oyster buoys, refrigerators, etc.) are a result of how tsunami debris is affected by wind. Because the tsunami debris entered the ocean at the same time, similar items travel at the same speed and will appear on Hawaiian and West Coast beaches around the same time.

Chris Woolaway, Hawaii’s International Coastal Cleanup State Coordinator, stated that since 2012 “Our volunteers and other members of the community have noticed larger debris that is less degraded coming in with the more chronic debris. This debris, as predicted by the IPRC, has shown up on sites already identified by long standing observations and monitoring.”

Our second shoreline inspection took place at Ki’I Dunes Beach, a 1,100 acre stretch of natural coastline, dunes and wetland on O’ahu’s North Shore that is part of the James Campbell National Wildlife Refuge. We assessed debris abundance and composition at Ki’I Dunes by removing and cataloging all marine debris inside a 25 m2 quadrat; these data will be compared to historical data collected at the same site during past Cleanups. The most notable items on this stretch of beach include  oyster spacers, hagfish traps, fishing net and rope, and of course an immesurable amount of mircoplastics. Atypical debris findings have been reported at Ki’i over the past 6 months, and Chris noted that the items we found match debris trends on other beaches across the Islands.

We conducted visual surveys as well and removed debris from the Refuge’s jagged coastline. These surveys revealed two items that had never been seen prior to the tsunami—half of a black oyster buoy and a 1 m2 piece of framed housing insulation. Large quantities of insulation foam were found on other parts of the beach as well, but only the buoy and framed insulation will be analyzed to confirm they’re of tsunami origin.

Our survey at Ki’I Dunes highlighted the serious debris problem that plagues all of Hawaii’s coastlines. Dissimilar to many beaches, much of Hawaii’s debris is not left by beachgoers. Instead, it washes ashore originating from faraway lands.

Tsunami debris or not, unfortunately the world’s trash problem has become Hawaii’s unavoidable plastic debris problem. And I assure you in response to this unnatural “plastics” disaster, no Hawaiian is saying, Mahalo.

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