Swinomish Marine Debris Removal Project

A tangle of green netting is lifted from the water with the support of a machine.

The project will survey for and remove derelict fishing gear from Similk Bay, and collaborate with Tribal stakeholders to prevent future loss of fishing gear and other marine debris.  

Type of Project: Removal

Region: Pacific Northwest

Project Dates: October 2019 - September 2021

Who is involved?
The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community and Natural Resources Consultants, Inc., with the support of a NOAA Marine Debris Program Removal Grant, will survey for and remove derelict fishing gear from Similk Bay in Washington State. They will also collaborate with Tribal stakeholders to prevent the future loss of fishing gear and other marine debris.

What is the project and why is it important?
The project will conduct side scan sonar surveys to locate marine debris in Similk Bay, Washington. Following the survey, the project will use commercially certified Tribal SCUBA divers and vessels to remove existing marine debris, estimated at 12 derelict nets and 210 derelict crab pots, as well as other miscellaneous debris items. After the removal, the project will redistribute, reuse, and recycle as much derelict fishing gear as possible. In addition, the project will work with Tribal stakeholders to provide a monitoring and enforcement mechanism to prevent gear loss and marine debris accumulation, and engage in outreach and education efforts to prevent marine debris.

This project is important because derelict crab pots and nets, such as gillnets, can continue to trap, entangle, and kill crabs, marine mammals and other species. Pots can also degrade the sea floor by damaging underwater habitats, and nets can pose threats to boaters. The removal of derelict pots and nets will benefit the marine environment and boating safety.