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      60 Bags of Trash Removed by 17 Volunteers Along 1/2 Mile Stretch of Ma’alaea Ditch in 2 Hours

      MA’ALAEA, MAUI, HI – Seventeen volunteers took part in Maui Nui Marine Resource Council’s cleanup of Ma’alaea Ditch on Saturday, December 8, removing 60 large bags of trash and an additional truck load of large items from the waterway in two hours.

      “This was our Christmas gift to the ocean,” said Amy Hodges, Programs Manager at Maui Nui Marine Resource Council. Hodges explained that the ditch empties into Ma’alaea Bay, and upcoming winter rains would have washed all of that trash into the ocean, had it not been removed by the volunteer team.

      The group cleaned up a length of the ditch that measured about a half mile.

      “In many parts of the ditch, there was so much plant material that  at first, we didn’t think there was any human-created trash,” said Anne Rillero, Communication, Community Outreach and Development Manager at Maui Nui Marine Resource Council. “But once we looked under the grasses and bushes, we found lots of hidden debris, including plastic bottles, straws, drink lids, plastic bags, cigarette butts and old coolers.”

      “Because this section of the ditch is along the Honoapiiilani Highway, it accumulates trash from passing cars and trucks,” said Hodges.”When it rains, all of this trash goes ‘whoosh’ right into the ocean, where it can harm or kill marine life.”

      The ditch is part of a series of engineered waterways which run along the base of the West Maui Mountains all the way from Waihee to Ma’alaea. It was named as a source of trash and sediment entering Ma’alaea Bay in a stormwater management plan created for Maui Nui Marine Resource Council by the consulting firm, Maui Environmental Management.

      Maui Nui Marine Resource Council will be implementing additional recommendations of the plan in 2019, as part of its program to improve ocean water quality in Ma’alaea Bay, an area that is home to a popular fishing area, famous surfing spot, two beaches, a sea turtle grazing area and coral reefs.

      “Ma’alaea Bay is a valuable community resource and is also an important nearshore ocean habitat for corals, turtles and other marine wildlife,” says Hodges.

      In addition to tackling the recommendations in the stormwater management plan, Maui Nui Marine Resource Council is working on a proposed pilot project to install oysters in Ma’alaea Harbor to help improve ocean water quality in the area. Oysters are filter feeders that can remove chemicals, oil, sediment, PCBs and pollutants from ocean water, as well as the bacteria that cause skinborne illnesses like Staph and MRSA.

      “Corals need clean water to thrive and all people want clean ocean water for recreation and enjoyment,” said Robin Newbold, co-founder and chair of Maui Nui Marine Resource Council. “We’re grateful that so many volunteers came out to help us work for clean ocean water by cleaning up this section of the ditch.”

      Celebrating 11 years, Maui Nui Marine Resource Council is a Maui-based nonprofit organization working for clean ocean water, healthy coral reefs and abundant native fish for the nearshore areas of Maui County. To learn more, visit www.mauireefs.org.

      PHOTOS BY: TY FREIBERG

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