The Problem

Marine debris is essentially any human-created waste found in ocean environments. Most of this debris originates from land-based sources, such as someone thoughtlessly discarding a cigarette butt or soda can. Plastics and other materials that resist natural degradation comprise a large degree of marine debris and are of particular concern.

Debris in our oceans kills and injures wildlife, spreads invasive species, leeches pollutants and endangers human health. Our conservation commitment includes monitoring, collecting and reporting marine debris while helping to keep Maui’s beaches and parks trash- and tobacco-free.

The Work

Pacific Whale Foundation researchers implemented marine debris research in 2013, documenting and removing debris items from the leeward waters of Maui, Kaho‘olawe, Lana‘i and Moloka‘i. In 2015, we piloted a community science program to raise awareness and encourage public involvement in the monitoring and removal of debris from our beaches. Our partners in this effort include local community groups, schools, corporate sponsors and volunteers from the public.


How You Can Help

  • Simply pick up your supplies (upcycled grain bag – generously donated by Mahalo Ale Works, Maui Brewing Company and Foodland – disposable gloves and a datasheet) at PacWhale Eco-Adventures’ Ocean Store Ma‘alaea, Moku Roots, or Maui Brewing Company in Kihei. You can also print our datasheet and use your own bag!
  • Head out to clean up any section of Maui’s coastline or your favorite beach back home
  • Complete and return your datasheet (either in-person or online below) for inclusion in our marine debris database that helps guide mitigation and prevention measures in Maui County.

With your help, we have removed and documented over


pieces of marine debris to date.

Malama Hawaii Program

Pacific Whale Foundation, in partnership with the Hawaii Tourism Authority and a statewide alliance of private industry partners, is proud to be part of a new initiative to encourage mindful and, ultimately, regenerative tourism.

The Malama Hawaii Program gives visitors an opportunity to volunteer with select organizations, like PWF, and earn great rewards at participating resorts. Our Coastal Marine Debris Monitoring Program was chosen as a curated volunteer activity by four resorts to date: Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa, Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa and Fairmont Kea Lani. While our program will continue to be available to all, guests of these resorts will have the exclusive opportunity to receive a complimentary hotel night and other perks once their data sheets have been returned to us.

Previous Program Results