While the Northeast region of the U.S. is home to several large population centers that create large amounts of consumer debris, there is also a marine debris issue lurking beneath the ocean surface. Derelict fishing gear is a prevalent problem in most of the Northeast states.
Lost or discarded fishing gear that is no longer under a fisherman’s control becomes known as derelict fishing gear (DFG), and it can continue to trap and kill fish, crustaceans, marine mammals, sea turtles, and seabirds. Factors that cause gear to become DFG include poor weather conditions, gear conflicts with other vessels or bottom topography, or the use of old, worn gear.
The NOAA Marine Debris Program is working with many partners in the Northeast to prevent, remove, and better understand DFG. These efforts help to prevent the economic, wildlife, and habitat impacts of DFG. For instance, the Center for Coastal Studies is working with commercial lobstermen to remove derelict lobster gear in Massachusetts waters. To prevent additional derelict gear, the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries has created a video series to educate recreational lobster permit holders about the steps needed to prepare and deploy their gear. In addition, the NOAA Marine Debris Program is a partner in the Fishing for Energy Partnership, which provides commercial fishermen with no-cost opportunities to dispose of derelict and retired fishing gear, and offers grant support for gear innovations to prevent loss and reduce impacts. Through efforts such as these, we can work to reduce the impacts of derelict fishing gear in the Northeast.