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Coral Cover Remains Suppressed Three Years After Derelict Net Removal in a Remote Shallow Water Coral Reef Ecosystem

March 01, 2023

Here, we investigate the longevity of derelict net impacts on coral reef communities three years after net removal at Pearl and Hermes Atoll.

The uninhabited Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI) contain 70 % of the shallow water coral reefs in the United States. An estimated 52 metric tons of derelict fishing nets accumulate here annually, becoming entangled in the reef structure and reducing coral cover. We resurvey net impact and control sites to determine whether coral cover rebounded at impact sites over time. Our results showed significantly lower coral cover at impact sites. Continued monitoring of these sites will add clarity to the lasting nature of derelict nets on reefs, and supplementing net removal efforts with active restoration activities may assist in restoring the ecosystem function of impacted sites faster.

Halperin AA, Lichowski F , Morioka J, O'Brien K, Suka R, Huntington B. 2023. Coral cover remains suppressed three years after derelict net removal in a remote shallow water coral reef ecosystem. Marine Pollution Bulletin. Volume 188: 114703.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2023.114703.

Last updated by Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center on 02/14/2023