Good afternoon gentlemen...

I looked in the Archives to see if this was brought up but it wasn't in the 
first five pages and the article was published in early May so here 
goes....

Please read the following article it's very interesting and I've enclosed a 
sample "Letter to Your Favorite State Rep" along with.  It will take you a 
few minutes and 33 cents to send.

Can't hurt.

Happy or shall I say depressing reading....

Angie

I'm not sending it in an attachment due to the virus scare that's been 
occurring lately....

THE ARTICLE

PUGET SOUND WATERS
The net effect: trouble
By Christopher Dunagan Sun Staff


A submerged ghost net, abandoned near Waterman Point in South Kitsap, had 
trapped extensive sealife, including this rockfish, when this photo was 
taken in 1992. The net was subsequently removed by recreational divers. 
 Today, state officials insist that removal be attempted by professional 
divers.



------------------------------------------------------------------------  
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. Lost fishing nets, known as 'ghost nets,' continue killing for years.  In 
the murky, undersea twilight of Puget Sound, scuba divers occasionally come 
face to face with the tangled remains of rotting fish.
Nearly invisible in the dim light, long-lost fishing nets continue to 
ensnare fish, birds, seals, crabs and other creatures that happen along.
Divers call these hidden traps "ghost nets."
"It's a little eerie, seeing fish like that," said Steve Fisher, an 
underwater photographer from Bremerton. "You can see that something has 
been eating on them, and the fish are a pretty good size - bigger than you 
would normally see."
Divers - including state biologists - have identified more than 50 sites 
with lost fishing gear in Washington state - from Point Roberts on the 
Canadian border to Olympia in South Puget Sound.
And the 50 sites represent just a fraction of the overall danger for marine 
life, since nobody has ever surveyed Puget Sound for lost gear, said Wayne 
Palsson of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
"If we looked harder, we would probably find more - and maybe a lot more," 
he said.
Whoever abandoned these nets probably lost an expensive piece of equipment. 
 Perhaps the fisherman was unfamiliar with the area, and the wind or 
currents pushed the net too close to shore. In most cases, the gear was 
abandoned after it became hopelessly tangled on a rocky reef.
And the problem is not just nets. Old-fashioned crab pots without the 
required "rot-out panel" sit on the bottom, where they become self-baiting 
traps that go on catching crabs year after year.
Even balled-up fishing line can be deadly for a variety of creatures, 
including birds and marine mammals.
Each piece of lost gear has its own lethal signature.
The most deadly are sections of net that stretch from one rock to another, 
Palsson said. Fish, including salmon, may swim into the net and never get 
away.
Over time, a net becomes more and more tangled. In general, fish are less 
likely to be trapped in gear that has been down a long time.
The abandoned nets could be a factor contributing to the decline of fish 
stocks in Puget Sound, he said, but they are not the biggest factor.
Some species of salmon have been listed as threatened, while some bottom 
fish are being considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act.
Since the nets are found tangled on rocky reefs, one might think that 
bottom fish would be the greatest victims, said Palsson, a biologist who 
specializes in bottom fish.
"But I have not seen great numbers of rockfish in the nets," he said. "I've 
seen sculpins, crabs, birds and occasionally marine mammals - but not those 
species on the (endangered) petition list."
What to do about the derelict gear is a difficult and expensive problem.
Since 1986, various initiatives have involved volunteer divers, and dive 
teams from the Navy and state and federal agencies.
Today, volunteers are discouraged from taking part.
"This is a job for a pro," Palsson said. "I have worked in two recovery 
operations, and both times I got caught in the net. You have to assume you 
will get caught and have a dive plan and the support to get out."
Two years ago on Earth Day, an experienced recreational diver drowned while 
attempting to bring up a snarl of fishing line during an underwater cleanup 
near Tacoma. Although she had a knife with her, 42-year-old Megan Reehling 
ran out of air before she could get free.
The tragedy convinced state officials to keep volunteers away from ghost 
nets. So, without money to address the problem, nothing is being done.
On the Hood Canal Bridge alone, 19 of the 42 cables anchoring the bridge to 
the seafloor are tangled with nets due to fishermen getting too close to 
the bridge, said Patrick Clarke of the state Department of Transportation. 
Some cables have multiple nets bound to them.
To get just two of the cables free of nets, a contractor estimated the job 
would cost $25,000, not including disposal costs, he said. The work remains 
undone.
Dale Thoemke of Olalla says he has found a cheaper way to remove nets. 
 Thoemke - better known as television fishing guide "Doc T-Ho-Ke" - has 
used underwater video for 13 years to teach people to catch fish.
Now, Thoemke has designed an underwater robot that he claims can free most 
nets without risk to a diver.
"The sport fishing industry is dying," Thoemke said. "Habitat is an 
important part of the problem, but all kinds of obstructions like ghost 
nets are taking our fish."
Thoemke is proud of his ability to catch fish, but "now I want to give back 
to the resource."
State Sen. Karen Fraser, D-Lacey, proposed a bill last year to help fund 
the cleanup, whether it be with divers or remote equipment. The bill, 
including a $200,000 appropriation, died in committee.
Now, Rep. Phil Rockefeller, D-Bainbridge Island, says he is ready to tackle 
the issue. He plans to call a meeting of experts - including sport, comm  
ercial and tribal fishermen - to discuss prevention of lost gear as well as 
removal of existing gear.
Whether that could include an assessment on fishing licenses is to be 
discussed.
Peter Knutson of Puget Sound Gillnetters Association said his organization 
is ready for such a discussion.
"It is important," Rockefeller said, "that we involve everyone in this and 
take a balanced and fair approach."
Published in The Sun: 05/04/2000


THE LETTER TO SEND:

Governor Gary Locke
P. O. Box 40002

Olympia, WA 98504-0002

Dear Governor Locke:

Salmon recovery efforts seem focused on restoring stream banks and
protecting wetlands. This is a good first step, but we must also start
restoring the marine areas in Puget Sound. Specifically this would be to
remove the ghost nets which no one seems willing to discuss.

In the summer of 1999, I contacted your salmon recovery representatives
about this matter and received no acknowledgment. I also wrote to Sen.
Gorton whose office informed me that my letter had been placed in the
Congressional Record where it would have no effect whatsoever.

These abandoned ghost nets, 90% of which are gillnets, are certainly a
leading cause of salmon and bottom fish declines. How big is the problem?
How many fish, seabirds and mammals do they kill each year? I have seen no
studies or estimates from our biologists.

In a meeting with Rep. Rockefeller and WDFW representatives, Mary Lou Mills
of WDFW said that when 1% of the rocky reef areas were surveyed, 10 ghost
nets were found. This equates to 1000 ghost nets in Puget Sound alone. If
you add Grays Harbor, Willapa Bay, and the Columbia River we could be
looking at 2000 of them. Of the 50+ ghost net sites documented by WDFW's
ground fish manager, not one was reported by commercial fishermen!

This is a fish recovery project that should be done by the state due to the
scope of the problem and the dangers involved. Furthermore, the nets are on
state land, controlled and managed by DNR. WDFW also shares responsibility
for the problem because they have known about it for many years.

In my opinion the fishermen who lost the nets could not afford to pay for
their removal, and it would be impossible to link recovered nets to
individual fishermen since identifying tags were not required until recent
years.

Net site identification followed by net removal should be started
immediately with salmon recovery money. Liability could be determined later
because it is so important to get this started.

Future net fisheries should be required to put numerous identification 
marks
on their nets and also post a bond or have insurance too pay for lost net
removal. Fishermen failing to report locations of lost nets should then be
held criminally responsible.

Thank you.

Sincerely,



Ray Frederick,

President Kitsap Poggie Club



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