Over the years of the NOAA Marine Debris Program, there have been many efforts around the country to rid our waters and shores of marine debris. As part of our ten-year anniversary celebration, let’s take a look back at one of those efforts in the Pacific Northwest.
The Northwest Straits Initiative— which is comprised of the Northwest Straits Commission, county-based Marine Resources Committees, and the non-profit Northwest Straits Foundation— has been a partner of the NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP) for many years. Starting way back in 2006, the Northwest Straits Foundation began to receive funding from the MDP to assess the impacts of derelict fishing nets to marine species in the Puget Sound. Through this project, the rate of mortality of marine species from derelict nets was analyzed and many derelict nets were removed from the inland ocean waters of the Puget Sound.
Since that initial partnership, these efforts have remained strong as the Northwest Straits Initiative continued to remove derelict nets for over a decade, having started their initial efforts in 2002 (before the MDP was even created!). The partnership with NOAA helped to strengthen these efforts. As the Northwest Straits Foundation took a leading role in addressing derelict fishing gear, over 5,000 derelict nets were removed from the Puget Sound, substantially reducing the amount of shallow water derelict nets in the Puget Sound’s priority areas. Now, it is crucial to reduce the creation of new derelict nets and gear by encouraging responsible use and quick reporting of lost items. This is why the Northwest Straits Initiative is continuing to focus on outreach and education efforts aimed to inform fishers and the public. Check out this recent prevention project, where they do just that!