Magazine article USA TODAY

Tons of Submerged Fishing Gear Found

Magazine article USA TODAY

Tons of Submerged Fishing Gear Found

Article excerpt

Scuba divers helped recover nearly 10 tons of lost and abandoned fishing gear from the waters around the California Channel Islands in the first year of a unique project based at the University of California, Davis. The cleanup included nearly 250 commercial lobster traps, numerous fishing rods and sport traps, and a huge fishing net covering 5,000 square feet of the seafloor.

"Our priority in the pilot year of the California Derelict Fishing Gear Removal Project was simply to get the project off the ground," explains wildlife health specialist Kirsten Gilardi. "We had no idea that, in the process of testing and refining our methods, we would find and remove as much derelict fishing gear as we did."

The huge fishing net was a purse seine--the type used to catch anchovies and sardines. It weighed 4,000 pounds and was snagged on a rocky reef in 80 to 100 feet of water at the eastern end of Santa Rosa Island. Lost and abandoned fishing gear can be dangerous to wildlife, boaters, and divers. …

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