Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Resource Protection section includes Regulations, Incident Response, Marine Debris, Wildlife Disturbance, Water Quality, Habitat Protection, and Permits
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Resource Protection section includes Regulations, Incident Response, Marine Debris, Wildlife Disturbance, Water Quality, Habitat Protection, and Permits
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Resource Protection section includes Regulations, Incident Response, Marine Debris, Wildlife Disturbance, Water Quality, Habitat Protection, and Permits Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Resource Protection section includes Regulations, Incident Response, Marine Debris, Wildlife Disturbance, Water Quality, Habitat Protection, and Permits

Derelict Fishing Gear

photo of a bird dead in derelict gear Derelict fishing gear is nets, lines, crab/shrimp pots and other recreational or commercial fishing equipment that has been lost, abandoned or discarded in the marine environment. Fishing gear poses a threat to a wide variety of animals through "ghost fishing," where the gear can attract, trap and kill marine mammals, seabirds, shellfish and fish. Because it can persist in the environment for decades, this can wasteful killing can continue indefinitely.

photo of dead animals in nets Ghost fishing reduces fishery stocks otherwise available for commercial and recreational fishers. An abandoned net or pot can create a hazard on which additional gear snags. Significant accumulations of gear can reduce available spawning and rearing habitat necessary to support future generations. Derelict fishing gear also can pose a threat to human safety, restrict other legitimate sanctuary uses, such as regulated fishing, anchoring and operation of vessels, and diminish the aesthetic qualities of activities such as scuba diving.

In Washington, the Northwest Straits Marine Conservation Initiativeimage indicates link leaves site has been on the forefront of efforts to identify locations, study impacts, and remove derelict fishing gear.

photo of seal tangled in fishing line Off the outer Washington Coast, the extreme weather conditions and complex seabed features increase potential for fishing gear entanglement and loss. Although the area has been subjected to substantial fishing effort over the years, very little effort has been devoted to surveying and removing derelict gear or assessing its impacts on local marine resources.

Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife has a program to mitigate derelict fighting gear impacts and a no-fault reporting systemimage indicates link leaves site for derelict gear. If you encounter derelict fishing gear, you can submit a report onlineimage indicates link leaves site or call 1-855-542-3935. Provide as detailed information as you can on the location and type of gear.

Sanctuary staff has observed derelict gear in the course of remotely-operated vehicle surveys of the sanctuary. In addition, there is anecdotal information about widespread derelict gear, some of which has been reported as an imminent threat to marine mammals. Yet, no systematic surveys have been conducted until recently.

In 2005, OCNMS was awarded funds from NOAA's Office of Restoration and Response for a pilot project to identify and remove derelict fishing gear in the northern part of the sanctuary, as well as to develop safe operating protocols for gear removal operations while working in the open ocean environment. The pilot project was a partnership with the Makah Tribe and the Northwest Straits Commission with a goal to build capacity in an affected community to conduct future derelict gear removal projects using resident commercial diving expertise and local people and vessels.

Download the full report (308k pdf)


Key Links:

http://marinedebris.noaa.gov/image indicates link leaves site

http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/derelict/image indicates link leaves site

http://www.derelictgear.org/image indicates link leaves site



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