3,000 Ghost Nets to Disappear

$4.5 million federal grant to speed removal of derelict fishing gear from Puget Sound

Posted on July 01, 2009

August 4, 2009
The marine resources of Puget Sound received a tremendous boost yesterday when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced the Northwest Straits Commission will receive a $4.5 million grant to remove derelict gill nets lost or discarded in Puget Sound.  Since its inception in 2006, Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) Washington has strongly supported funding for the Northwest Straits Commission and has lobbied federal and state officials to take action to remove these silent killers.
“Ghost nets haunt our waters,” said Bryan Irwin, Executive Director of CCA in the Pacific Northwest. “These invisible killers of ESA-listed salmon, marine mammals and other marine life take a devastating toll.  We commend NOAA for not only recognizing this serious environmental challenge, but also targeting these funds to remove 3,000 high-priority derelict gill nets from Puget Sound.  The project is an important first step toward the real solution of ending the use of these dangerous nets in our waters.”
Lost and abandoned gill nets create a vicious cycle of destruction.  They continuously ensnare fish, crabs and marine mammals which then die, attracting additional predators, which then also become ensnared.  The nets also wreak havoc on marine habitat.  Carried by currents and tides, they scrape the floors of rivers and bays, scouring the fragile ecosystems.
In addition to supporting funding for derelict net removal, CCA Washington has also called upon state officials to move boldly to reduce the ongoing loss of fishing gear and to hold offenders accountable.  Proposed measures include mandatory identification tags for active gear, and mandatory reporting of lost gear.  
“CCA Washington applauds the efforts of the Northwest Straits Commission, Senator Patty Murray, Congressman Norm Dicks and Congressman Rick Larsen for working to remove these destructive nets,” concluded Irwin. “These nets lie under the water’s surface destroying marine life around the clock, out of the sight and mind of the general public.”                                                           
About CCA: Coastal Conservation Association is a non-profit organization comprised of 200 chapters in 17 coastal states spanning the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic and Pacific coasts. In 2007, CCA expanded into the Pacific Northwest and the organization has quickly grown to more than 9,000 members and continues to launch chapters in both Oregon and Washington. As the largest marine conservation organization in the country, CCA’s strength is drawn from the tens of thousands of recreational anglers who make up its membership. Across the country, CCA’s grassroots influence is felt through state capitals, U.S. Congress and, most importantly, in the conservation and restoration of our marine resources.