Ocean Conservationists Retrieve Huge Net of Ghost Fishing Net Off Lanai
Large Mass of Plastic Ocean Trash Washed Ashore on Remote Coastline of Lānaʻi: Couple Celebrating Anniversary Charters Local Team to Recover 1500 Pound Ball of Nets
February 26, 2019 (Hawai’i, USA) - A couple was exploring the coastline of the Hawaiian island of Lānaʻi by boat last week when they spotted a large mass of fishing net and plastic trash washed ashore on the remote volcanic tidepools by Nānāhoa Islet off West Lānaʻi (referred to as Three Stone), known for its three large pinnacles. The Hawaiian Islands had previously seen a few weeks of unprecedented storms, so the couple and their captain guessed the net had come ashore during some of this tumultuous weather.
After snorkeling to the spot and climbing to investigate, Sven Lindblad and Kristin Hettermann saw something up close that shocked them both — a mass of net so dense that it could not be budged, with uncountable assortment of different types of fishing and cargo nets, buoys and other plastic trash. They estimated it to weigh 1500 plus pounds (wet) and be about 30 feet in length.
Clearly not able to move this large piece of floating ocean trash, they continued their circumnavigation of the island but could not forget about what they had seen. “As inspired ocean conservationists, Sven and I are constantly exploring the world’s ocean, raising awareness for its challenges, encouraging behavior change, and supporting organizations doing important ocean conservation work,” Hettermann says. “It just didn’t seem right to leave it there, especially in the middle of this stormy weather, when we had the capacity and resources to do something about it.”
Sven and Kristin decided to undertake the challenge in hopes that their efforts would inspire others to do their part in cleaning up our ocean — whether small or large, every bit of trash removed from the ocean helps as we move toward a more sustainable future. “Hopefully in the future new materials will be made that can address human needs (sustenance, transport) and not last for decades in our natural systems,” Hettermann noted. “Even though what we saw was a lot of fishing net, the blame is not to rest on the fishermen just throwing their trash in the ocean. So much of our modern challenge rests in just cleaning up the remnants of the past — what was accepted and expected and somehow ended up in our natural systems.”
Lindblad and Hettermann reached out to Captain Jason Allen of Fish N Chips that evening for a quote to charter him again — but this time with a local free diver, Skyler Fisher. The group returned the next day to work together to reclaim the trash and take it to a place where it could be more easily and properly disposed of by the island’s services. Once safely secured on land and out of the direct marine environment, the group thought it could be valuable as a public awareness project about plastics in the ocean, and also reached out to try to contact Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii and Parley for the Oceans Hawaii to see if there might be a use for this recovered mass.
“We had no idea how this was going to work. It was a very difficult task, and our first attempt was to try to hook it with a large metal marine grade hook and use the boat’s 500 HP engine to drag the net back into the sea. The hook immediately bent,” recounted Lindblad. “When we were able to get line tied around the girth of the mass, the boat was powerful enough to drag it off the ledge and into the ocean.” The group towed the mass back to the Manele Small Boat Harbor for two hours at a speed of 2 knots.
Sven Lindblad, Founder of Lindblad Expeditions, and his fiancé Kristin Hettermann, Founder of OCEANSCAPES, were enjoying the island of Lānaʻi celebrating the anniversary of meeting on Maui in 2015. They are based between Maui and New York and both active internationally in the ocean conservation arena. Lindblad is an Ocean Elder, a dedicated group of global leaders that use their collective influence to pursue the protection of the ocean’s habitat and wildlife. The Ocean Elder group also includes global leaders such as Nainoa Thompson, Richard Branson, Sylvia Earle, Prince Albert II of Monaco, Queen Noor, and more. Hettermann is an artist, writer, and underwater photographer.
Lānaʻi is the sixth-largest of the Hawaiian Islands and 97% owned by Larry Ellison (Founder and Chairman of Oracle), with the remaining 3% owned by the state of Hawai’i and privately-owned homes.
Kristin Hettermann, 808-205-4767, firstname.lastname@example.org