Hawaii Can Do Many Things To Limit Ocean Pollution - Honolulu Civil Beat

About the Author

Kahikiku Mar

Kahikiku Mar is a student at Punahou School. Native Hawaiian born and raised, he paddles in and out of school and keeps up with his academics. In his free time, he works at local fishponds or taro patches with his friends and cousins. Mar is part of a group named the Fathers of the Waters focused on saving marine life locally in Hawaii.

Paradise, utopia, or the perfect getaway are different names for the beautiful Hawaiian Islands. Hawaii is a bucket-list place for visitors across the planet. As islands with marvelous beaches, stunning views and fascinating culture, these islands never seem to lose their beauty.

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However, behind all the grand hotels, local shop fronts, and flourishing green mountains are piles of trash that flow into the archipelago’s waters. Plastic floats into the mouths of marine life and fatally chokes them.

Because of this, fish are caught with pieces of plastic in them, affecting us. Polluted concrete cities and glorified landfills are far more accurate descriptors for this tropical heaven.

These problems highlight why we as a society need to make a change. We can do many things to limit pollution, such as ensuring our garbage reaches a trash can, picking up rubbish we see on the ground and reducing our use of single-use plastics. If we all make an effort, soon, we will start to see results.

We, a group of high schoolers from all over Oahu, came together and call ourselves the Fathers of the Waters. We aim to help contribute toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal No.14: Life Below Water.

Goal No. 14 focuses heavily on marine life and its conditions. Our main goal is to inform more people about what’s happening in Hawaii and get them involved, whether they are tourists or locals.

“We made this group because we all care about the waters of Hawaii, and we know that the quality of the water in Hawaii has gone down in recent years. Our group decided to come together to take a small stab at a solution by actually doing something ourselves,” Isaiah Tanaka, one of our members, explained.

screenshot from the UN website on Sustainable Development
A screenshot from the UN website on Sustainable Development. 

“We are Hawaii’s future, and we need to start doing something about these beaches because if no one does anything, it will be too late for future generations,” group leader Charlie Ho points out.

Humanity is the problem the environment faces, and we need to come together to find solutions and make a difference before it’s too late.

Our group uses social media to inform and educate people about our island’s dire situation. On April 24, we displayed our passion for this goal by taking a trip to Heeia Fishpond on Oahu’s east side. For over 800 years, this structure has been a primary food source for Native Hawaiians.

Over generations, the people of Hawaii have relied on fish for their primary diet. With fish so abundant, Hawaiians wanted to make places where the fish would be more easily collected. So, they constructed chain fishponds.

This important wall formation contains hundreds of thousands of rocks placed along the outer edge to create the fishpond’s walls, with gaps for gates to let in fish. Over time, rocks have fallen off into the ocean, and the walls and gates have crumbled down, creating a dying source of food income.

By working on the land and using teamwork, and working with strangers all across America, our group is stepping forward to restore this landmark to its previous state. Some things we did included burning mangroves, moving around excess wood and weeding out other invasive species. When we did this, it made more room for the water and gave more room for native plants to grow.

The Pacific’s Garbage Patch

What can we, as a society, do to solve this problem of overpollution? Even though there are many steps to take, one of the main things to focus on is major beach cleanup.

According to rePurpose.com, one of the most successful beach cleanups of all time was the collaborative Puri, India, beach cleanup, which was jump-started by India’s District Administration and took place in September 2019 on International Coastal Cleanup Day.

While it didn’t record the most plastic picked up, it did see extensive participation. They put in the time and effort to help the environment, and if we all make an effort to go to a couple of beach cleanups, the world will be a better place in no time.

With 5,000 volunteers, the people in India conquered a lot. Now, imagine that nine times over.

With 44,456 total volunteers over the years, the most prominent organization in Hawaii is 808CleanUps. It is a group that helps clean places all over Hawaii, including many beaches. The volunteers have done hundreds of beach cleanups to help solve the problem of over-pollution, and in the past seven years they have collected over 381 tons of plastic.

One massive reason we need these beach cleanups in the first place is because of the amount of waste tourists and locals produce, which unfortunately overflows into the ocean. According to dumpsters.com, the U.S. produces 268 million tons of trash each year. Even worse, only 140 million tons of that goes into landfills, which means 128 million tons of trash gets released into the oceans each year.

The harmful effects of what we do can lead to creations like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a 1.6 million square kilometer mass of trash pulled from the American West Coast, East Asian coast and the Pacific.

To put it into some perspective, that’s an area about twice the size of Texas and three times the size of France. However, the problem is that over 1.4 million people live on the Hawaiian Islands, and many aren’t doing nearly enough. We need to control overpollution in Hawaii and come together to put the time and effort into cleaning up our beaches and ultimately creating a cleaner environment.

If we all make an effort, soon, we will start to see results.

If people ranging from the East Coast to the West Coast to the Hawaiian Islands can band together for one day and clean a fishpond, we can too. As a group promoting awareness of our cause, we constantly need help to make a more significant impact. These problems are precisely why you — yes, you — should help contribute.

Whether you are a local or a tourist, our beaches and waters are a vital attribute to every living being residing on or visiting these islands. Doing simple, small things like picking up after yourself, not littering, and using reusable utensils can help make a significant future if you work along with the guidelines of other organizations.

We, the Fathers of the Waters, will continue to support and care deeply about the environment for years to come, and we hope you will join us in this action to save the beaches of Hawaii. As Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino said, “Choices have consequences.”

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About the Author

Kahikiku Mar

Kahikiku Mar is a student at Punahou School. Native Hawaiian born and raised, he paddles in and out of school and keeps up with his academics. In his free time, he works at local fishponds or taro patches with his friends and cousins. Mar is part of a group named the Fathers of the Waters focused on saving marine life locally in Hawaii.

Latest Comments (0)

Mahalo Kahikiku for your efforts. An additional tidbit of information to consider is the *source* of all this ocean pollution. Without knowing the root cause, we will constantly be treating (ie cleaning up) the symptoms (the trash). Much of the fish/seafood we purchase cannot be reliably traced. Even when reputable suppliers are used, we cannot know how much plastic fishing debris has been lost or released from industrial fishing. According to a 2018 study cited in the film Seaspiracy, 46% of the plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is fishing ropes. Having data can help to inform our solutions as we strive for a better tomorrow.

luckyd · 3 weeks ago

Plenty mahalo, Kahikiku, for your efforts. I am hoping your generation have enough ideas and power to put your vision into reality. Obviously, those before you did not.

oldsurfa · 1 month ago

Thanks for this good article about our actions and our ocean.

Valerie · 1 month ago

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