Preventing Derelict Nets and Crab Pots in the Puget Sound through Targeted Outreach Programs

An illustrated image of a crab in a crab pot with the words "keep your pots, catch more crab!".
The NWSF's instructional videos worked to encourage crabbers to improve their fishing practices. (screen capture from video; Video Credit: NWSF)
A person on a boat standing next to a derelict net.
A derelict net is removed from the Puget Sound. (Photo Credit: NOAA)

The NOAA Marine Debris Program partnered with the Northwest Straits Foundation which prevented derelict fishing gear in the Puget Sound through education and outreach to tribal, commercial, and recreational fishermen and crabbers.

Type of Project: Marine Debris Prevention through Education and Outreach Grant

Region: Pacific Northwest

Project Dates: January 2016 - December 2017

Who is involved?
The Northwest Straits Foundation (NWSF), with the support of a NOAA Marine Debris Program Marine Debris Prevention through Education and Outreach Grant, conducted outreach to tribal, commercial, and recreational fishermen and crabbers about the impacts of derelict gear, how to prevent gear loss, and how to report lost nets.

What is the project and why is it important?
Derelict fishing gear can cause damage to habitats, hazards to navigation, economic losses, and entanglement and ghost fishing of marine species. In Washington, more than 12,000 crab pots are lost annually and fishing nets are occasionally lost as well. Since 2002, the Northwest Straits Foundation (NWSF) has removed over 5,000 derelict fishing nets and more than 3,600 derelict crab pots from the Puget Sound, restoring over 715 acres of important marine habitat and protecting thousands of mammals, birds, and fish from entanglement.

This project was built on a long-standing partnership with the NWSF which removed derelict fishing gear from the Puget Sound and educated the local fishing community about the impacts of derelict gear. As part of this project, the “Net Reporting Outreach Program” focused on educating tribal enforcement personnel and non-tribal fishermen about the Newly Lost Nets Reporting, Response, and Retrieval Program. Outreach was conducted through regular meetings with tribal enforcement personnel, the development and placement of posters about the net reporting program at commercial fishing marinas and ports, the development and distribution of educational materials at fishermen-related events, and the placement of advertisements about the net reporting program in fishing magazines.

In addition, the “Recreational Crabber Outreach Program” worked with recreational crabbers to encourage the implementation of best fishing practices that will reduce the loss of crab pots. The NWSF collaborated with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Snohomish County Marine Resources Committee which developed and distributed a series of videos based on social marketing research on how to inspire recreational crabbers to improve their fishing practices. The NWSF also lead additional outreach through presentations, media coverage, and outreach at events attended by recreational crabbers.

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A person on a boat standing next to a derelict net.
A derelict net is removed from the Puget Sound. (Photo Credit: NOAA)