Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Reserve
These aren’t your ordinary butane lighters. They are actually garbage washed ashore on Midway Atoll, located 1,250 miles west of Honolulu. Midway is part of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Reserve, a chain of isolated islands extending 1,200 miles northwest from the Main Hawaiian Islands. The reserve is the second-largest protected area in the world, aside from Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
|A federal bill introduced by Congressman Ed Case seeks even greater protection for this fragile ecosystem. While it won’t do much to stop the drifting trash, the bill will eliminate all commercial fishing and extend the reserve, making it the largest and most protected marine refuge in the world. The Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation is reviewing the bill.|
|Meanwhile, a new state law signed by Gov. Linda Lingle ends all commercial fishing and coral harvesting within three miles of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.|
WEB EXCLUSIVE: QUICK FACT
Volunteers must voyage annually to the islands to collect marine debris–everything from lighters to stray fishing nets. Last year, groups gathered 123 tons of debris throughout the reserve to help protect coral reefs and the more than 7,000 species of wildlife found there. Many of these species, such as the Hawaiian monk seal and green sea turtle, depend on these islands for their survival.