Do the Robot
New program lets NOAA scientists use ROV to remove industrial fishing gear from sensitive habitat.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Using tips from fishermen and Lost Fishing Gear Removal cruises, NOAA’s Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is launching clever efforts to retrieve lost fishing gear from deep water locations before it entangles fish and marine mammals like whales and seals.
Beginning Oct. 18, the Portuguese Ledge State Marine Conservation Area at the southern edge of the Monterey Bay Submarine Canyon has been the site of extensive efforts to locate and remove lost nets and debris from the protected deepwater rockfish habitat.
“We’re focusing our efforts on the new state marine protected areas in an effort to enhance their productivity by reducing the potential for entanglement of living marine resources,” says Karen Grimmer, deputy superintendent for the sanctuary. The team uses a remotely operated vehicle to retrieve the nets, lines, pots and traps that lie discarded on the deeper areas of the ocean canyon that are inaccessible to divers.
At times removal can demand a discriminating eye, as the gear can become part of the surrounding habitat with anemones, sponges, crabs and lobster and pulling up nets would also pull up coral and ultimately cause more damage than leaving it; once the team locates the debris, they must decide if it would be more beneficial to remove the material or allow it to remain part of the underwater habitat. So far removal teams have cleaned up two large fishing nets, a 20-foot segment of gill net and a crab trap.
For more information about the efforts of the NOAA or the impact of debris on our oceans, visit their website.