UC Davis/Sea Grant – Marine Debris Study (Derelict Gear Pilot Project) (2005)
Derelict fishing gear is lost or abandoned fishing nets, lines, pots, traps, and other commercial and recreational fishing gear that sits on the seafloor, gets caught on rocky reefs, or floats in the water column. The majority of this gear does not decompose in seawater and can remain in the marine environment for years. Derelict gear impacts the marine environment in several ways: it can continue to “catch” marine animals, which become entangled or trapped; it can damage the habitat upon which it becomes entangled or upon which it rests; it can pose an underwater hazard for boaters, entangling boat propellers and anchors; and it can similarly endanger humans, especially divers. Derelict gear is also a visual blight, diminishing the natural aesthetic quality of the seafloor and rocky reef habitat for underwater enthusiasts.