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Helicopters airlift 5 tons of marine debris from Kahoʻolawe


Nearly 5 tons of marine debris were airlifted from Kahoʻolawe to Maui last week. The volunteer beach cleanup is a triennial project led by the Kaho‘olawe Island Reserve Commission.

"You collect 2 tons and then another 2 tons shows up. It’s everything including bowling balls, snorkel equipment, fishing gear. You name it we see it," said Lopaka White, a 17-year-long employee of KIRC.

The project cost $76,000 to hire helicopters and purchase supplies. A Windward Aviation helicopter carried 23 large fabric bags of trash across the ocean.

The trash flown to Maui will be recycled by the nonprofit organization Mālama Maui Nui. A portion of the marine debris will stay on Kahoʻolawe to be repurposed as erosion control structures.

"It’s not gonna stop until we make choices that prevent it from getting there in the first place," KIRC’s Margaret Pulver said.

"The fact that I found a truly completely sealed brand new disposable water bottle filled with fresh water that came from one of these resorts — I won’t name names but the label is still on it — leads me to believe that we have a lot of work still to do in the choices we make before we use and choose plastics," Pulver said.

Zoe Dym was a news producer at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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