Northwest Straits Marine Conservation Initiative
The Northwest Straits Initiative has worked in partnership with the NOAA Marine Debris Program since it was established in 2005 to make progress toward eliminating harm from derelict fishing gear in Puget Sound. The Northwest Straits Initiative's Derelict Fishing Gear Removal Program began with a pilot project in 2002 that was funded through the NOAA Community-Based Restoration Program. A database, reporting system and removal protocols were developed, and pilot removal operations conducted. The Initiative was subsequently awarded one of the first grants from the Marine Debris Program in 2005 to continue removal operations in Puget Sound, as well as export the program to other regions of the United States, provide training for divers in removal operations, and for outreach and education.
In 2009, the Northwest Straits Initiative received a $4.6 million award as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that enabled the removal of 2,493 additional nets, bringing the total to over 3,850 removed by the Initiative. The removal of these nets has prevented the entanglement and death of more than 2.3 million marine animals annually, including mammals, fish, birds and invertebrates. The Initiative is committed to removal of the remaining derelict nets, which includes those in deepwater areas not yet surveyed.
The crew of the F/V Bet Sea removing derelict fishing nets from an area near Lummi Island. Photo credit: Pete Anderson
Crayton Fenn and George Potts of the R/V Surveyor II recover a derelict fishing net. Photo credit: Northwest Straits Initiative
Doug Monk pulling in a net containing a newly-killed harbor seal. Photo credit: Northwest Straits Initiative
Diver Jack Iotte removing a rockfish killed in a derelict fishing net. Photo credit: Northwest Straits Initiative
Crewmember George Potts removing an entangled rockfish from a derelict fishing net. Photo credit: Northwest Straits Initiative
Doug Monk observes marine life entangled in recovered gillnet. Photo credit: Northwest Straits Initiative
Dungeness crabs found dead in recovered derelict fishing net. Photo credit: Northwest Straits Initiative