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Movement and Retention of Derelict Fishing Nets in Northwestern Hawaiian Island Reefs

January 01, 2022

We track abandoned fishing nets with satellite-transmitting buoys to better understand where fishing litter ends up to aid in debris removal missions.

Abandoned fishing nets pose hazards to marine systems as they travel through the ocean or become ensnared on coral reefs. 

Understanding of the movement of nets within shallow atolls can help to optimize operations to protect these shallow reefs. 

In 2018, six derelict fishing nets at Manawai in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands were tagged with satellite-transmitting buoys and tracked for three years.
This study reveals that nets that enter the atoll from the northeast travel southwest towards the center of the atoll, and nets in the center can remain ensnared on the same reef for at least three years.
This study shows that satellite buoys are a successful approach to tracking derelict net movement, and can inform future debris removal missions.

McCoy KS, Huntington B, Kindinger TL, Morioka J, O'Brien K. 2022. Movement and retention of derelict fishing nets in northwestern Hawaiian island reefs. Marine Pollution Bulletin. Volume 174:113261. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2021.113261.

Last updated by Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center on 05/26/2022

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