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HPU program will pay commercial fishers to retrieve discarded ghost nets

HPR marine bounty project
Hawaii Pacific University
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HPU's CMDR team in front of large derelict fishing gear conglomerate

Hawaiʻi’s commercial fishers make money when they haul in seafood — but they may soon get paid to haul in ghost nets.

A new program from Hawaiʻi Pacific University's Center for Marine Debris Research will offer $1 to $3 per pound of derelict fishing gear found at sea.

In August 2022, about 100,000 pounds of marine debris was pulled out of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Now, with HPU's bounty program, that could mean that fishermen could make upwards of $200,000 for a project of this kind — pulling out an equivocal amount of nets that the Papahānaumokuākea Marine Debris Project did.

HPU has partnered with the Hawaiʻi Longline Association and the state Department of Land of Natural Resources to remove more than 200,000 pounds of derelict fishing gear over the next two years.

The university said that they ran a test trial of the project from 2020 to 2021. They plan to have HPU staff, students and volunteers collect the marine debris from the dock, where they will measure and weigh the nets.

The majority of the found debris will be given to artists or educators who wish to repurpose it. The remainder will go to the City and County of Honolulu to use in a Nets-to-Energy program.

A study conducted by the university stated that most of the neglected fishing gear that gets washed ashore here is actually not from Hawaiʻi-based fisheries.

Ocean currents tangle up lost and abandoned fishing gear into large masses. These masses entangle and drown ocean animals and smother coral reefs.

More information about the bounty project can be found here.

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