Slide background

News and Media

News and Media

Our small band of Maui Ocean Defenders recently did two ocean cleanups:

November 27, 2023

December 5, 2023

The locations were popular recreational fishing spots called McGregor and Papwai.

Their “catch of the day” McGregor:

PDA Maul volunteers with their Catch of the Day

They pulled out 78 pounds of lead weights and over 500 feet of fishing line.

The next cleanup at  Papawai:

ODA Maui ocean cleanup crew with abandoned fishing gear

Their efforts yielded 77 pounds of lead weights and almost 600 feet of abandoned fishing line.

Way to go ODA-Maui volunteers! Your time and efforts make the oceans safer for all wildlife.

If you live in Maui and want to help out, please email us at

A Look-Back by ODA-Maui Coordinator Lloyd Johnson

As we’re coming to the close of the year, I’ve been reflecting about how our Maui ODA chapter started.

We’ve got almost a 10-year history. I believe it was 2014 when we started ocean cleanups. I was running a Meetup group called Maui Mantas. One of our members asked me if we ever gave back to the oceans. Good question! That was Shawn Jezerinac. He created a group within our group which he called Reef Angels. He’s since moved away, and Maui Mantas is now a Facebook group, but Reef Angels carries on. Yes, we want to keep giving back!

We settled on two spots for regular cleanups, via shore dives (this means we walk into the water). We have two other sites, one accessible by shore or boat and the other only by boat. The debris we remove is almost exclusively fishing tackle. In selecting the site, we want a site that can benefit from our work. Fishermen leave the abandoned fishing equipment, and divers remove it. If the site is frequented by divers, others have already left little for us to do. So, we seek out sites that have difficult access for divers.

The two shore dive sites we clean on alternating weeks, sometimes aborting or switching as conditions dictate. We also sometimes miss a week when key members are traveling, or otherwise unable to dive. We probably do these shore dives 40 times a year, averaging 35 pounds each time. Fishermen replace the trash that quickly.

A few years ago, I was contacted by Kurt Lieber of Ocean Defenders Alliance (ODA). By volunteering with ODA, we’ve been able to charter a boat to motor to a site out of the reach of shore diving, but frequented fishermen. While we’ve used different boats, they have always been under the ownership of Michael Dougan, now the proud owner of ProDiver. He calls the chartered missions Reef Rescue. I haven't kept track of how many missions Kurt has chartered, but we’ve pulled out hundreds of pounds of fishing tackle, nearly 400 pounds on our best day. Some of those days we have to abort, due to inclement weather, but we make up for it in our shore dives.

For the second week in August of 2023, we had chartered a boat with a new ODA partner called Dive Maui, but we were hit with a natural disaster – the tragic Lahaina fire of August 8, 2023. Dive Maui was the only surviving dive shop in Lahaina, but Lahaina was in no condition to host that mission.

In fact, Kurt himself was caught in that disaster. He was in Hawai’i for cleanups in August. He had completed a cleanup on the island of Hawaii, then flew to Maui for our cleanup. On the 8th, he was en route to his hotel in Lahaina, when I received a group message that he'd been stuck in traffic for five hours. At that time, we still didn't know the seriousness of the fire. I told him to turn around and spend the night in my guest room in Kihei. 

While he was fast asleep, two of my friends who lived only two miles away had to evacuate and they asked to stay at my house. They were able to return to their home the next morning, but so many others had no home to which they could return. Maui came together to help them and outsiders sent donations. That recovery is far from over.

In order to get to the more remote fishing sites, we need to do chartered cleanups (with Reef Rescue), so your support is needed. The boat captain and crew are paid, but all the divers are unpaid volunteers. 

Your year-end donation to ODA is much-needed, not just for cleaning Maui waters but to keep all the cleanup operations going – thank you!

donate now