October 17, 2008

Abandoned Nets Continue to Trap Animals

Thousands of abandoned nets and crab pots remain in Puget Sound in Washington state after five years of efforts to remove them, officials said.

The derelict fishing gear is believed to have killed 30,000 marine animals, including sea otters and other mammals and diving birds, the Seattle Times reported. One net pulled up last week contained bird bones and the remains of star fish and mollusks.

The nets and pots, designed to trap marine animals, can get caught on reefs and continue their work for years in the sound.

Canada has no programs yet to remove derelict gear from its waters. Last week, about a dozen wildlife agents from British Columbia attended a two-day workshop in Washington state for training on starting retrieval programs and some hands-on experience.

"Part of the problem is it's an unseen problem," said Larry Paike, who heads conservation and protection for Vancouver Island with Fisheries and Oceans Canada.