Plastic pollution is not a new phenomenon, but it is a prevailing problem. Hagfish traps are the focus of an on-going Surfrider project. The commercial fishing of Hagfish, a deep-water eel-like fish that is considered a delicacy in Korea and valued for its skin in the production of high-end accessories, is inadvertently leading to the endangerment of other marine animals, such as monk seal pups. These traps get swept to the Hawaiian Islands from Asia or the West Coast by currents and tradewinds. If a curious monk seal sticks its head in the cone-shaped traps to investigate the trap will tighten around its mouth, and if the monk seal is not freed it can die of starvation.
According to the Surfrider Foundation, "In 2021, Surfrider Foundation’s Kauaʻi Chapter and partner organizations Hawaiʻi Wildlife Fund and SHARKastics have already removed an estimated 3,000 hagfish traps from shorelines on Kauaʻi, Hawaiʻi, Maui, and Lanaʻi." This is amazing progress that could not be accomplished without the help of individuals dedicated to helping protect our wildlife, but there is still work to be done. If you are interested in getting involved or reading more about Surfrider's Hagfish Trap project you can read their blog post here.