NOAA's Marine Debris Blog

Keepin' the Sea Free of Debris!

What is Derelict Fishing Gear?

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According to NOAA, the term “Derelict fishing gear” (DFG) refers to nets, lines, crab/shrimp pots, fish traps, and other recreational or commercial fishing equipment that has been lost, abandoned, or discarded in the marine environment. Modern gear is generally made of synthetic materials and metal, and lost gear can persist for a very long time.

Derelict trap in the S. Atlantic Bight. Credit: NOAA SEFSC

In a USA Today interview this week, Dr. Lisa DiPinto, acting director of the NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP) stated that, “fishers often lose nets by accident when they are displaced by storms or cut by a passing boat…[posing] a continued threat to our [ocean] habitats and resources.” To date, the NOAA MDP has partnered on projects in Alaska, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Virginia, Washington and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Some of NOAA’s partners in this work include the Center for Coastal Resources Management at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and the Northwest Straits Marine Conservation Initiative.

Through innovative programs such as “Fishing for Energy” (a cross-sector partnership which began in 2008 with Convanta Energy Corporation, non-profit National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Schnitzer Steel, and NOAA), DFG is recovered and recycled. The program “has recovered more than 300 tons of gear from recycling bins at 19 ports in seven states,” according to Convanta Energy Corp. spokesperson Christine McCoy.

Check out the USA Today article about derelict fishing gear at:

Learn more about derelict traps at:

Find out more about different types of marine debris at:

Author: NOAA Marine Debris Program

The NOAA Marine Debris Program envisions the global ocean and its coasts, users, and inhabitants free from the impacts of marine debris. Our mission is to investigate and solve the problems that stem from marine debris, in order to protect and conserve our nation's marine environment, natural resources, industries, economy, and people.

One thought on “What is Derelict Fishing Gear?

  1. Pingback: Is There a Garbage Patch in the Great Lakes? | NOAA's Response and Restoration Blog

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