Published: November 2002
Derelict fishing gear includes nets, lines, crab and shrimp traps/pots, and other recreational or commercial harvest equipment that has been lost or abandoned in the marine environment. Modern nets and fishing line made of synthetic materials have been in use since the 1940s and take decades, even hundreds of years, to decompose in water. Derelict fishing gear is long-lasting marine debris that poses many problems to people and to marine animals, including:
- Entangling divers and swimmers;
- Trapping and wounding or killing fish, shellfish, birds and marine mammals;
- Degrading marine ecosystems and sensitive habitats;
- Damaging propellers and rudders of recreational boats, commercial and military vessels;
- Endangering boat crews and passengers with vessel capsizing.
Unfortunately, Puget Sound is littered with derelict fishing gear. It is estimated that hundreds of tons of derelict gear have collected over time in Puget Sound and the Northwest Straits region in particular including the Strait of Juan de Fuca and northern Puget Sound from Everett to the Canadian border.