Coast Guard Cutter Walnut Recovers 28 Tons of Marine Debris

HONOLULU – The Coast Guard and its agency partners recovered more than 28 tons of marine debris from the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.

The crew of the Coast Guard cutter Walnut, a 225-foot buoy tender homeported here, partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University of Hawaii during the18-day multi-agency removal effort.

The Walnut’s crew departed May 20 for a 2,900-mile trip to Maro Reef and Midway Atoll. Their goal was to remove as much marine debris as possible from the waters surrounding the monument using the using the ship’s crane, lift bags and divers.

“For over a decade the Coast Guard has been a valuable and committed partner to help address marine debris in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands,” said `Aulani Wilhelm, NOAA Superintendent for the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. “It takes many hands working together to address this global issue, and NOAA applauds and is grateful for the Coast Guard’s efforts.”

President Bush established the monument two years ago; it is the world’s largest fully protected marine conservation area. NOAA co-manages the monument’s resources in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the state of Hawaii.

NOAA’s Pacific Island Fisheries Science Center’s (PIFSC) Coral Reef Ecosystem Division (CRED) provided technical support using geographical information systems to survey, locate and provide expertise on removing marine debris. The NOAA representatives created daily survey plans, recommended navigation to the specified reefs and directed Coast Guard divers in debris surveys and data collection procedures.

More than 510 metric tons of debris have been removed from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands since 1996.

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