Derelict Gear Removal
Decade after decade throughout the 20th Century, hundreds of thousands of fish, marine mammals, birds, invertebrates and other creatures fell victim to a silent and invisible killer -- commercial and recreational fishing nets, pots and other equipment lost or snagged on the bottom of Puget Sound, where it continued to catch and kill, to the benefit of no one.
Our MRC was instrumental in calling attention to this slaughter and in launching the initial Puget Sound derelict gear removal project. Since 2002, the Northwest Straits Commission has managed the project, removing more than 3,800 derelict nets and more than 2,000 crab pots. More than 211,000 animals, representing over 223 species, were found entangled in this gear. We partner with the NWSC in the ongoing work of locating and removing lost or abandoned gear from the waters around both Whidbey and Camano islands.
Tons of these materials have accumulated in Puget Sound over many decades of human activity. They catch and kill harbor seals, porpoises, river otters, grebes, cormorants, Pigeon Guillemots, salmon, rockfish and Dungeness crabs, in addition to other life. They also pose a hazard to swimmers, boaters, divers and other recreationists.
The NWSC estimates fewer than 1,000 derelict nets remain today in shallow, sub-tidal waters of Puget Sound, plus an unknown number in deeper waters. Few nets are being lost these days due to advances in fishing technology and reduced fishing effort resulting from declines in fish populations. But more crab pots than ever are being lost and the NWSC is looking for funds to continue the clean-up effort. For more information about the derelict gear program, visit the Derelict Gear Program section of the Northwest Straits Commission website.