The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community Marine Debris Removal Project in Similk Bay

Posted Wed, 10/09/2019 - 11:40

It is estimated that every year, over 10,000 crab pots are lost in the Puget Sound. The lost pots trap and kill crabs and other marine animals, degrade the sea floor upon which they rest, and interfere with other fishing. Derelict fishing nets, some lost recently and others years ago, entangle marine animals and harm the ecosystem. The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community conducted a pilot project in March 2016 to remove derelict fishing nets and crab pots in Similk Bay. Building on its success, they are preparing to begin a full scale removal of derelict fishing gear, and couple it with education and outreach to Tribal entities to prevent future gear loss.

A man stands on a boat holding an old, round crab pot.
Removal of derelict crab pots (Photo: Swinomish Indian Tribal Community/Natural Resource Consultants).

The new project will utilize side scan sonar surveys to locate marine debris in Similk Bay, Washington. Following the surveys, the project will use commercially certified tribal divers and vessels to remove marine debris, estimated at 12 nets and 210 derelict crab pots, as well as other miscellaneous debris items. After the removal, the project team will redistribute, reuse, and recycle as much derelict fishing gear as possible. In addition, the project will work with tribal stakeholders to provide a monitoring and enforcement mechanism to prevent gear loss and marine debris accumulation, and engage in marine debris outreach and education efforts.

The project, funded by the NOAA Marine Debris Program and the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community,  will be conducted over the next two years in partnership with Natural Resource Consultants. This project will promote marine debris awareness and reduce the impacts of derelict fishing gear in Similk Bay. For more information about the project, view the project profile

Three people stand on a pier that holds seven large, blue plastic bins that are completely filled with old crab pots that were pulled from the sea.
Some of the marine debris removed during the pilot project (Photo: Swinomish Indian Tribal Community/Natural Resource Consultants).