In general, the Hawaiian Islands are known as the “paradise islands.” We agree they’re incredibly beautiful. These islands deserve our stewardship and care especially because their beaches and waters are marred by abandoned fishing gear—both commercial and recreational—as well as plastic and “gyre-type” pollution.
In 2016, due to the great need for ocean cleanups, ODA began working in Hawai'i. We kicked off our debris-removal work in Oahu with the help of long-time friend Stephen Boreman, Esq., his nephew Mash Hatae, Vicki Szymczak, and friends from the University of Hawai’i who are very concerned about the health of their local waters.
Because the coastal waters of Hawai'i are generally very deep, it’s quite different from the work we do off the coast of California where we can dive 35-100 feet and remove debris that’s sitting on the ocean floor.
The way the ocean currents flow, most ghost gear collects in the Pacific Gyre (garbage patch), but some spins out and washes ashore. Often, we remove very large quantities of fishing net from beaches along with fishing ropes and other garbage. Occasionally, we also find fishing equipment such as nets floating at sea, and regularly we find recreational fishing lines and toxic lead weights on the coral-laiden underwater cliffs and near-shore bottoms.
In Hawai'i, rather than own and keep vessels (which means high costs for purchasing, maintenance, and moorage), we partner with three reputable dive companies:
- Oahu: Island Divers Hawaii, Matt Zimmerman (owner); Mary Christensen (dive instructor)
- Big Island: Jack’s Diving Locker, Teri & Jeff Leicher (co-owners); Kawika Leicher (boat captain/dive instructor),
- Big Island: Kohala Divers, Rebekah and Greg Kaufmann (co-owners)
We are fortunate to have these excellent partners. We work from their boats and they help connect us with people who want to give back to the oceans.
We’re thankful there are so many people in Hawai’i who are passionate about their coastal waters!
On the Big Island, as mentioned above, we enjoy working with two dive companies (Kohala and Jack’s Diving Locker) cleaning both debris from harbors and at sea.
Our monthly dives in Oahu waters from the Island Divers Hawai’i boat always see full crews; we’ve had over a hundred different divers participate. Our Oahu coordinators are Ken Staples (underwater photographer), AJ Jaeger (topside photographer) and Glenn Roberts (Dive team coordinator).
In Hawai'i, we work regularly in the waters and on the beaches of Oahu and the Big Island. We’re developing relationships on the Island of Maui, and plan to expand there next.
If you haven’t already explored our California page, we invite you to do so.
We’d love to have your help in Hawai'i, whether on a beach or on a boat or helping with outreach. Check out all the types of volunteering on our Get Involved page.