The Hawaiian Islands have become a magnet for ocean debris, shows a new aerial survey, and the trash includes everything from discarded fishing gear to tires, metal, clothes, and boats, according to KHON-TV in Honolulu
Much of the trash was thought to be from Japan.
In fact, the aerial survey by the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources and the North Pacific Marine Science Organization was funded by Japan's Ministry of the Environment in hopes of finding out how much of the debris came from Japan's 2011 tsunami.
Researchers, however, found that the Hawaiian Islands didn't get much debris from there, and were receiving an international trash collection from other places, noted KHON-TV.
"We ended up finding actually very little Japanese tsunami debris, but we did find a lot of plastics," said Brian Neilson, aquatic invasive species biologist, Hawaii's Division of Aquatic Resources.
"This plastic comes from other places in the Pacific. It comes off fishing boats, other islands, other countries, and because of the way Hawaii is situated and the currents, it just accumulates on our shores here in Hawaii. So it's an ongoing problem and a problem we're going to be dealing with for a while since we can't really control the source of it."
The aerial survey final report
said geography had a lot to do with Hawaii becoming a trash collection point.
"Hawaii is located in the center of the North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone, largely affected by the Central Pacific Gyre," noted the report. "This gyre is powered by four major ocean currents that stretch across the north central Pacific Ocean from Japan to California. Because a circulating body of water collects debris in its center, the coastlines of Hawaii receive significant quantities of debris each year."
The report said the first confirmed item from the Japanese tsunami to reach Hawaii was a blue plastic fishing container found Sept. 18, 2012, off Makapu'u, Oahu. and since then 21 vessels and an assortment of buoys, fishing containers, signs, and other items have washed up.
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