NOAA's response to "Recreational" fishing nets reported

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Posted by Divebum Don on November 17, 2009 at 14:38:13:

NOAA's response to "Recreational" fishing nets reported

Dear Mr. Robarge:

Thank you for your interest in our work. The New Scientist article had some inaccuracies, one of them being the reference to recreational nets. Here is a link to our paper which is in press at Marine Pollution Bulletin:


Diana Watters

Don Robarge wrote:
Dear Miss Watters,
I'm writing with curiosity about the term "recreational" fishing nets used in the article in NewScientist http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18028-californias-coastal-waters-a-dump-for-fishing-gear.html. I'm a California scuba diver involved with underwater clean up of derelict fishing gear, nets, traps, lines, Etc. Most of what we encounter at near shore recreational diving depths is indeed commercial fishing gear, and very little recreational fishing gear such as monofilament, weights, lures, etc.

Our diving community is very curious as to what exactly you've encountered in the deep areas. Any insights or reference you could lend would be very appreciated and educational for us.

Don Robarge
Dive Team Coordinator,
Ocean Defenders Alliance

The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.
Jacques Yves Cousteau

Diana Watters
Research Fisheries Biologist
Habitat Ecology Team, Fisheries Ecology Division
Southwest Fisheries Science Center
National Marine Fisheries Service
110 Shaffer Rd.
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
phone: (831) 420-3934
FAX: (831) 420-3980

Marine debris is a global concern that pollutes the world’s oceans, including deep benthic habitats where little is known about the extent of the problem. We provide the first quantitative assessment of debris on the seafloor (20–365 m depth) in submarine canyons and the continental shelf off California, using the Deltasubmersible. Fishing activities were the most common contributors of debris. Highest densities occurred close to ports off central California and increased significantly over the 15-year study period. Recreational monofilament fishing line dominated this debris. Debris was less dense and more diverse off southern than central California. Plastic was the most abundant material and will likely persist for centuries. Disturbance to habitat and organisms was low, and debris was used as habitat by some fishes and macroinvertebrates. Future trends in human activities on land and at sea will determine the type and magnitude of debris that accumulates in deep water.
Keywords: Delta submersible; Submarine canyons; Continental shelf; Benthic communities; Video survey; Plastics
Article Outline

1. Introduction
2. Methods
3. Results
3.1. Distribution and abundance of debris
3.2. Characterization of debris
3.3. Impacts of debris
4. Discussion

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