Thursday, October 16, 2008

Lost fishing gear keeps on killing

What happens to old fishing gear? Lost nets, known as "ghost nets" can keep on fishing for decades, killing ocean animals indiscriminately.

Here in Puget Sound, people are trying to clean up the mess of lost fishing gear. It's an amazingly huge problem. The Seattle Times reports on a pilot project that aims to remove 12 tons of gear. That's just the beginning of solving this problem. Yikes.

According to the Times:

Officials believe that 4,000 nets and 14,000 crab pots still rest abandoned in Puget Sound, and the gear has already trapped and killed more than 30,000 animals.
How does old fishing gear kill?

Lost and abandoned fishing nets, crab pots and monofilament line lurking in the depths can mean catastrophe for marine life. Fish, crustaceans, sea birds and marine mammals die after becoming entangled in lost or abandoned commercial and recreational gear.

The dead animals attract predators and scavengers who then perish. In this manner, "a derelict fishing net can fish for decades," Williams said.

"These things are killing fields," said Gary Wood, executive director of Island County's marine-resource committee. "If they were terrestrial, that's what we'd call them. The reason there isn't a big hubbub is because they're underwater, so we don't see them."


Derik said...

This is quite shocking; perhaps we need to introduce a programs which encourages personal responsibility rather than profit when it comes to sea-faring adventures.

This program seems a step in the correct direction.

Kinney said...

This issue also hits very close to home here in the pacific northwest freshwater salmon habitat. Sportfishing methodologies are often set up to contaminate low calcium stream segments with huge quantities of lead fishing sinkers.
Bedrock riverine potholes act as mortar and pestle to grind lead into colloidal particulate that can dissolve in fish mucus and gill tissue. The much increased particulate surface also dissolves much more readily to become much more toxic to stream biota. Low calcium systems become far more risky for this type of contamination and subsequent far reaching aquatic health degradation.
Ray Kinney

Theresa said...

Never thought about this as being a problem. I guess I thought fishermen cared about the environment because it is their livelihood.

PinkAvocado said...

aww that picture with the turtle breaks my heart :(. this is soo sad!