State officials are seeking information from the public on who may be dumping large, black bags of trash into waterways that end up at Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor.
The bags have been popping up regularly within the trash catchment of the harbor’s mouth since last October, according to the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, and their source remains a mystery.
DLNR Division of Boating and Ocean Recreation, meanwhile, has granted permission to 4ocean — a business with a mission to end the ocean plastic crisis — to retrieve and dispose of the bags.
On Thursday, marine biologist Kristen Kelly and other staff with 4ocean removed eight waterlogged bags from the harbor.
“They stink and beyond the smell, it’s super hard to pull them up because they’re just full of water,” said Kelly in a DLNR press release video. “You just can’t get them in over the edge of the harbor there… So, before we figured out this parbuckling method (nets and poles), we had been kind of having to rip them open and picking stuff up one piece at a time and whew! The smell, it’s really not fun.”
Many people at the Ala Wai, including paddlers, yacht clubs and fire department have also tried to pick the trash up, she said, but many of the bags are so heavy they go right out into the ocean. Based on the bags’ contents, they appear to be residential and commercial trash.
Waikiki Yacht Club paddler Jeanne Martin-Hopkins says canoe clubs have attempted to lasso the bags that have escaped the harbor’s trash catchment.
“They’re just disgusting and foul,” said Martin-Hopkins in a news release. “They are full of bad stuff – feminine products, stuff that pokes you through the bags. The fact that somebody is deliberately throwing these bags in the Ala Wai instead of disposing of them properly, you know, it just needs to stop.”
DLNR said any individual caught throwing trash into a Hawaii waterway could face criminal littering charges.
Anyone with information on the trash, or who sees someone dumping trash into streams, lakes, or the ocean in Hawaii can report it at 808-643-DLNR or via the free DLNRTip app.