August 13 Celebration Commemorates Milestone in Puget Sound Recovery

Members of the Northwest Straits Initiative, Senator Patty Murray, State Representative Norma Smith, and special guests invite you commemorate a milestone in Puget Sound recovery by celebrating the culmination of removal of shallow water derelict fishing nets from Puget Sound at an event at 11:00 am on Thursday, August 13, 2015 at the Port of Everett’s Boxcar Park, 615 13th Street, Everett. The event is free and open to all community members.

The August 13 celebration will honour the many public and private partners and funders who believed in the vision of a derelict net-free Puget Sound. Through partnerships and perseverance, the Northwest Straits Initiative has removed over 5,600 derelict fishing nets from Puget Sound’s shallow subtidal waters, permanently restoring over 800 acres of marine habitat and saving thousands of marine animals from entanglement every year. Joan Drinkwin, Interim Director of the Northwest Straits Foundation said,

Over a decade ago, we established a goal to eliminate harm from derelict fishing gear in Puget Sound. This work culminates a huge milestone toward achieving that goal. Removing these nets restores marine habitat forever. Marine mammals like porpoises, diving birds, and fish can now swim and dive in Puget Sound without the risk of being entangled in these dangerous derelict nets.

The event will also honour the vision shown by leaders who created the Northwest Straits Initiative, a nationally recognised model for marine conservation. Creating the Northwest Straits Initiative was a bold step, relying on the citizens of Puget Sound to steer a course to marine conservation. The Northwest Straits Initiative took on the problem of derelict fishing gear removal in Puget Sound and has been responsible for its success. This accomplishment and milestone in Puget Sound recovery reflects the power of collaborative conservation which was the vision of the Murray-Metcalf Commission and the inspiration behind the Northwest Straits Initiative. Ginny Broadhurst, Director of the Northwest Straits Commission said,

This is a great example of the type of projects that our local Marine Resources Committees lend to Puget Sound recovery. Derelict fishing gear removal started in one community and grew to include all of Puget Sound.

Washington State Representative, Norma Smith said,

Senator Murray and Congressman Metcalf cast the vision that if communities worked together, we could address the challenges facing the Puget Sound. I join so many others in expressing gratitude for their bipartisan and lasting leadership that has made a generational difference. The accomplishment of the Northwest Straits Initiative in removing more than 5,600 derelict fishing nets from the Puget Sound demonstrates how much we can accomplish when we work together across the aisle and across the Sound.

Aggressive removal of shallow water legacy derelict nets from Puget Sound concluded in June 2015. Funding of the Derelict Fishing Gear Removal Program has been made possible by a myriad of public and private funders, including NOAA, U.S. EPA, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Washington Department of Natural Resources, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, private foundations and corporations, including the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Phillips 66, tribal organizations including the Tulalip Tribes Charitable Fund, civic and angler groups including the Puget Sound Anglers, and private citizens. Accelerated removals in the last two years were made possible with Washington State legislative funding approved in 2013, championed by Representative Norma Smith. Drinkwin said,

Just about every agency and organization in Puget Sound that works to protect and restore our marine waters has contributed to this effort. We have many people to thank, so this is a celebration not just of our work, but of collaboration and pulling together to achieve great things.

Now the work of the Northwest Straits Foundation program will focus on continued collaboration with the fishing industry and fisheries co-managers to ensure that newly lost nets do not become derelict. Moving forward, the Foundation projects that current fishing net loss is minimal and commercial fishers are now required to report any lost nets. To make sure derelict fishing nets do not reaccumulate in Puget Sound, the Northwest Straits Foundation manages a no-fault, no-penalty Reporting, Response, and Retrieval program aimed at responding immediately to all reports of lost nets and ensuring they are retrieved before they sink and become derelict.

In addition to preventing re-accumulation of shallow water nets, the Northwest Straits Foundation will continue its work researching and removing deep water derelict nets throughout Puget Sound utilising remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and will seek funding to refine effective methods. We will also continue our strategic approach to reduce impacts from derelict shellfish pot loss, utilising our research on escapement effectiveness combined with public outreach in best crabbing practices.