The California Lost Fishing Gear Recovery Project, a program of the Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, has officially received funding from the California Coastal Commission for 2022.
The project brought in 90,968 pounds of lost, abandoned, or discarded gear found along the Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego County coasts and from around the Channel Islands in 2020 and 2021.
“Lost, abandoned or otherwise discarded fishing gear impacts the global ocean, harming marine wildlife, degrading habitat, and endangering vessels and ocean-users,” said Kirsten Gilardi, director of the WHC and the California Lost Fishing Gear Recovery Project, in a June 7 article from UC Davis. “We’re celebrating World Oceans Day, which is June 8, not only by assessing the achievements of our project to date but also by continuing this important work to remove the most impactful form of marine debris from southern California’s coastal ocean.”
The project works directly with commercial fishers to find and retrieve gear to limit its impact on the environment.
The project was launched in 2006 and has removed thousands of nets and other equipment while also releasing hundreds of live sharks, fish, and other creatures trapped in the lost gear. The project has also documented several cases where the creatures did not survive.
Between Dec. 2019 and Dec. 2021, divers worked with the program, diving in 30-100 feet of water off California over 133 days of cleaning up gear.
During that time, divers found 666 items of fishing gear, almost 1,400 living creatures caught in the gear, and more than 7,900 creatures who did not survive the entanglement.
“In over 50 years of diving, most of that as a fisherman, I have been really bothered by all of the lost fishing gear I have come across when underwater,” said Glenn Dexter, a contract vessel operator and diver for the project in the article. “It has been really rewarding to work with UC Davis from the F/V Triton and with contract divers Tony Schroeder and Mike Neil to find and remove the gear. We have left the ocean cleaner and safer for marine life and for the health of the ocean.”
For more information about the project, see https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/california-lost-fishing-gear-recovery-project.