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Preview: Fishing for the ghost nets of Whatcom County

Bellamy Pailthorp
Fishing for ghost nets in the Puget Sound too often yields injured or dead wildlife.

(Updated at 11:49 a.m. with new photos)

This morning I’ll be up early, heading to Sandy Point Marina, near Bellingham, for a short field trip with the non-profit Northwest Straits.  They’re a non-partisan group that’s been removing derelict fishing gear from the waters of the region for the past decade. 

Here’s a note on their work from the group’s web site.

Since 2002, the Northwest Straits Initiative has removed more than 3,850 derelict fishing nets and more than 2,000 crab pots from Puget Sound, restoring 528 acres of critical marine habitat.

Over 211,000 animals, representing more than 223 species, were found entangled in this gear. Species found include porpoise, sea lions, scoters, grebes, cormorants, canary rockfish, Chinook salmon, and Dungeness crab.”

Congressman Rick Larsen will be on board, learning more about the issue as the group is looking for more funding.  To date, they have received at least $4.6 million of federal stimulus money, putting  30 people to work for 18 months. They currently have some additional grant money from National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and ConocoPhilips to work in the area north of Bellingham.  At this point, says the group’s director, Ginny Broadhurst, the majority of derelict fishing nets remaining in Puget Sound are in Whatcom County waters.

Check back later for complete coverage this afternoon on All Things Considered.

Northwest Straits video on ghost nets:

Here’s another by KCTS9 :