March 29 marked the fifth year the Hawaii Wildlife Fund (HWF) teamed up with the State’s Natural Area Reserve crew to clean up a stretch of coastline within the Manuka Natural Area Reserve, which extends from Ka‘u into South Kona.
After driving over very rough roads and hiking more than a mile each way, the 30 clean-up participants hauled 26 bags of debris (weighing 430 pounds) off the isolated shoreline.
Volunteers came from Hilo, Kona, Puna and Ka‘u and worked for hours on this collective mission to malama ke kahakai (take care of the shoreline).
NAR specialist Jenn Randall arranged to bring an all-terrain vehicle to haul debris to the staging site where it was removed by helicopter the next week. Mike McCagh, with HI Kombucha, brought a keg of grapefruit kombucha tea to share with the hardworking participants.
Tony Villegas, with Coconut Auto Repair, provided a four-wheel-drive vehicle to transport a group of youngsters from Ka‘u. Joe Robinson, underwater photographer from Kailua-Kona, donated his time and equipment to photo document and film the event.
HWF has led community-based efforts to remove marine debris from along the Ka‘u coastline since 2003. During this time, HWF estimated more than 90 percent of the 168 tons of debris removed is plastic (e.g., fishing line/nets, shampoo bottles, toothbrushes). As the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Program shares, “Marine debris affects everyone.”
Here locally, HWF strongly believes the solution begins with individuals such as those who volunteered and with the small decisions residents of Hawaii Island make each day.
“Do your part to help our marine and coastal wildlife: choose to reuse, remember to recycle and limit your single-use purchases,” said HWF project coordinator Megan Lamson. “We live on an island, and we must be mindful of how we are treating the land, freshwater, and ocean that support us.”