Derelict Fishing Net Removal in the Puget Sound

A worker on a boat removing a derelict net from the Puget Sound.

The Northwest Straits Foundation combated derelict fishing gear in the Puget Sound by removing derelict nets and conducting outreach with local tribes and fishermen about the impacts of derelict gear.

Type of Project: Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant

Region: Pacific Northwest

Project Dates: June 2013 - December 2014

Who is involved?
The Northwest Straits Foundation removed derelict fishing gear from the Puget Sound with support from a NOAA Marine Debris Program Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant. This project built on a longstanding partnership between the NOAA Marine Debris Program and the Northwest Straits Foundation.

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, derelict fishing nets from a once strong fishery litter the Puget Sound. Since 2002, the Northwest Straits Foundation has removed thousands of nets from the Puget Sound and has found hundreds of thousands of animals entangled in these nets including fish, seabirds, and marine mammals.

Through this project, the Northwest Straits Foundation removed 120 derelict nets from the Puget Sound, restoring approximately 15.8 acres of marine habitat. During the removal of these nets, 18,208 animals were found entangled, including 13 birds and 83 fish. In addition to these removal efforts, approximately 750 people were reached with outreach presentations, including the members of the Puget Sound Leadership Council and seven Indian Tribes. This outreach focused on the impacts of derelict gear and the importance of reporting lost gear.

The success of this and other project partnerships with the Northwest Straits Foundation has led to additional funding for outreach through a NOAA Marine Debris Program Prevention through Education and Outreach Grant.