Stimulus Money Used in the San Juan Islands for Net Removal

In the past 30 years, old fishing gill nets that have sunk to the sea floor are estimated to be responsible for the injuries or deaths of 30,000 birds, 110,000 fish and almost 2 million invertebrates. But, thanks to federal stimulus money under the Obama administration, removal of these silent but deadly fishing nets has been accelerated.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association awarded the Northwest Straits Derelict Fishing Gear Removal Program $4.6 million for this project. The money is funding four boats and a dozen paid divers to work on the project full time. The goal is to remove 90 percent of the estimated 4,000 nets laying on the bottom of the Puget Sound and San Juan Islands by the end of 2010.

“This is one of the few environmental projects I’ve worked on where you can see you have an impact,” said Jeff June, field manager for the project. “We can measure the amount of habitat we’re restoring.”

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