New Law Requires Reporting of Lost Nets
On March 29, 2012 Governor Gregoire signed into law Senate Bill 5661, making it mandatory for commercial fishermen to report lost nets to the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife within 24 hours of loss. Mandatory reporting is expected to enable prompt location and facilitate removal of lost nets, thus helping to stem further accumulations of derelict fishing net gear. Pursuant to the new law, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will be implementing an emergency regulation effective July 1, 2012 that requires the reporting of lost nets within 24 hours using at least one of two reporting options: 1) a toll free derelict gear reporting hotline (1-855-542-3935), or; 2) an online reporting system managed by the Northwest Straits Marine Conservation Initiative (http://www.derelictgear.org/reportgear.aspx). The telephone number of the Northwest Straits Initiative that has been used to report derelict fishing gear can still be used by others reporting gear, but commercial fishermen must use the WDFW number or the online reporting system to comply with the new regulation.
Gear Removal to Date
As of December 31, 2012 the Northwest Straits Initiative has removed 4,358 derelict fishing nets and 2,889 crab pots from Puget Sound, restoring 616 acres of critical marine habitat.
Over 291,015 animals, representing more than 270 species, were found entangled in this gear. Species found include porpoise, sea lions, scoters, grebes, cormorants, canary rockfish, Chinook salmon, and Dungeness crab. For a complete report of our progress to date, click here. To view of map of the locations where nets have been removed click here.
Nets: We estimate that fewer than 200 derelict fishing nets remain in shallow sub-tidal areas of Puget Sound, entangling and killing more than 136,780 animals each year. We are continuing removal operations as funding allows. To view a map of known nets remaining click here.
Deepwater nets: We also know there are untold numbers of nets in deeper water, possibly entangling endangered rockfish and other deepwater species and destroying habitat. We are currently seeking funding to conduct surveys of deepwater areas to determine how many nets remain in those areas.
Crab pots: More work is needed to prevent the loss of crab pots as well. Our research estimates that 12,000 pots are lost in Puget Sound every year. We support local efforts to conduct outreach to recreational crabbers on best practices in order to to reduce the number of lost pots and ensure pots are rigged with biodegradable escape cord.
ARRA Project Complete
In 2010, the Initiative completed an 18-month project with $4.6 million dollars of economic stimulus funding from NOAA. The project enabled us to ramp up our removal operations from one boat operating part time to four full-time removal vessels. For more information, click here.
Derelict Net at Alden Bank
The video below shows underwater footage of a derelict net on Alden Bank in Whatcom County. Check out our video gallery for additional underwater footage.
The Northwest Straits Initiative is committed to eliminating harm from derelict fishing gear in marine waters of Puget Sound.
(click image to enlarge)
What is derelict gear?
Derelict fishing gear includes fishing nets, lines, crab and shrimp traps or other equipment that is abandoned or lost in the marine environment. Such gear poses many problems to marine animals and people.
Read more about the impact derelict gear has in Puget Sound.
Q13 Fox TV - June 7, 2012
The Olympian - April 17, 2012
Seattle Times - April 8, 2012
KING 5 TV - February 8, 2012
KPLU - June 9, 2011
Everett Herald - May 13, 2011
Vancouver Sun – March 18, 2011
KUOW – January 11, 2011
USA Today – May 18, 2010
NBC Nightly News – Sept. 29, 2009
New York Times – August 24, 2009
Click here to view a full list of articles.
Campaign for Matching Funds
The Foundation is seeking funds for derelict gear removal from individuals, businesses and foundations through 2013 in order to fulfill requirements of private matching funds for federal grants. Donations can be made online or through the mail. Read more...