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Mar Pollut Bull. 2010 Jan;60(1):39-50. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2009.09.005. Epub 2009 Oct 13.

Derelict fishing nets in Puget Sound and the Northwest Straits: patterns and threats to marine fauna.

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NOAA Fisheries/National Marine Fisheries Service, Conservation Biology Division, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, 2725 Montlake Boulevard East, Seattle, WA 98112, USA.


Derelict fishing gear remains in the marine environment for years, entangling, and killing marine organisms worldwide. Since 2002, hundreds of derelict nets containing over 32,000 marine animals have been recovered from Washington's inland waters. Analysis of 870 gillnets found many were derelict for years; most were recovered from northern Puget Sound and high-relief rocky habitats and were relatively small, of recent construction, in good condition, stretched open, and in relatively shallow water. Marine organisms documented in recovered gillnets included 31,278 invertebrates (76 species), 1036 fishes (22 species), 514 birds (16 species), and 23 mammals (4 species); 56% of invertebrates, 93% of fish, and 100% of birds and mammals were dead when recovered. For all taxa, mortality was generally associated with gillnet effectiveness (total area, age and condition, and suspension in the water). Mortality from derelict fishing gear is underestimated at recovery and may be important for species of economic and conservation concern.

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