Successful Application of a Novel Technique to Quantify Negative Impacts of Derelict Fishing Nets on Northwestern Hawaiian Island Reefs

August 01, 2020

Use of structure from motion to quantify impacts of derelict fishing nets on shallow water coral reefs in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

The remote and uninhabited Northwestern Hawaiian Islands contain 70 percent of the shallow water coral reefs in the United States and are regularly exposed to derelict fishing nets. These nets snag on the shallow reefs, damaging or killing benthic communities. However, no data exist to quantify this impact. Here we use a novel application of photogrammetry, Structure-from-Motion (SfM), to calculate benthic cover from mosaic images at net-impact and control sites. Net-impact sites had significantly higher cover of bare substrate, sand, and crustose coralline algae and significantly lower coral and macroalgae cover compared to control sites. These differences were unrelated to net size and fouling. Our study demonstrates the utility of using SfM to efficiently quantify impacts of derelict fishing nets. Revisiting these sites will be essential to document how the reef recovers to further our understanding of the lasting impacts of derelict fishing nets on coral reef habitats.


Suka R, Huntington B, Morioka J, O'Brien K, Acoba T. 2020. Successful application of a novel technique to quantify negative impacts of derelict fishing nets on Northwestern Hawaiian Island reefs. Marine Pollution Bulletin. 157:111312.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2020.111312.

Last updated by Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center on 09/25/2020

Coral Reefs