Marine Mammal Entanglement Prevention and Habitat Restoration in Alaska
A man dressed in all orange stands in a boat holding a pile of yellow rope.
A Kodiak setnet salmon fisherman poses with a spool of packing band material removed from a remote beach. This type of marine debris is known to be a serious entanglement hazard to marine mammals in Alaska (Photo: Island Trails Network).

Island Trails Network is working to reduce the entanglement and mortality of whales, Steller sea lions, and other marine mammals and increase awareness of the impact of entangling debris.

Type of Project: Fishing for Energy Grant

Region: Alaska

Project Dates: January 2019 - December 2020

Who is involved? 
The Island Trails Network, with the support of a Fishing for Energy grant, a partnership between the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Covanta, and NOAA’s Marine Debris Program, will work to reduce entanglement and mortality of whales, Steller sea lions, and other marine mammals and increase awareness of the impact of entangling debris by engaging volunteers and the commercial fishing industry in Alaska to remove derelict fishing gear.

What is the project and why is it important?
Marine debris is a continual threat to the marine environment and coastal communities of the Kodiak archipelago. Entanglement in marine debris, especially in net and line, is a significant cause of mortality of marine mammals, several of which are important for the survival and cultural value of the Alutiiq people of Kodiak and other Alaskan Native groups.

Through this project, Island Trails Network will remove derelict fishing gear from prioritized locations in the Kodiak archipelago including Kodiak, Afognak, Shuyak, and minor outlying islands. To accomplish this goal, the partners will use teams aboard vessels to clean continuous stretches of shoreline around the port of Kodiak. A setnet program, which incentivizes salmon fishers to remove marine debris from coastlines during fisheries closures, will complement this effort to educate and engage a sector of the commercial fishing industry known to be associated with marine mammal entanglements. Island Trails Network will also offer clean-up and safety protocols, bulk bags, and other equipment for fishermen to survey and remove marine debris.