Session Chairs: Dan Tonnes, NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service; Kyle Antonelis, Natural Resource Consultants, Inc.

This session will highlight the utility of local ecological knowledge (LEK) to research, find, prevent and remove various types of marine debris.

This session will detail research, documentation, prevention and removal of various types of marine debris through aid of Local Ecological Knowledge (LEK). LEK is a methodology in the field of ethnoecology that is accepted and used by many natural resources agencies and researchers (Hall-Arber et al. 2002). LEK can result in better understanding of local distributions of fishes and habitats, ecological interactions, local fishing businesses, social dynamics of fishing, fishing communities’ territories knowledge of use, local economics and networks of regional economies of which communities are a part, and local fishing culture (Hall-Arber et al. 2002).

Successful lost fishing gear prevention and removal depends on evaluating various conditions under which a fishery occurs; some that are universal, and some that are site-specific. Determining the spatial and temporal extent of marine debris in any given location is a major step in identifying solutions for reducing derelict fishing gear presence, and reducing the associated ecologic and economic impacts. In general, empirical data records reflecting information about lost fishing gear is rare, even under some of the most sophisticated fishery management regimes. Therefore, LEK is often the only source for initial investigations aimed at understanding the location, quantity, density, and extent of lost fishing gear in a particular region.

Aside from fishing-related marine debris, LEK can be used to assess the accumulation and types of marine debris over various timescales, and the ecological consequences to fish, wildlife, habitats and human culture and health. Utilizing LEK can provide efficiencies and vital input of residents and indigenous communities that may be disproportionately impacted by marine debris. We understand that LEK is used around the globe to gain insight into lost fishing gear other marine debris, and believe a session highlighting its importance, focusing on methods and outcomes would be a significant contribution to the 6IMDC, and assist in the continued use of this valuable tool to reduce the impacts of marine debris.




The Role of LEK in the Development and Progress of the Derelict Fishing Gear Program in U.S. Waters of the Salish Sea

presenting: Dan Tonnes (NMFS Protected Resource Division, United States); authors: Dan Tonnes (NMFS Protected Resource Division, United States), Kyle Antonelis (Natural Resources Consultants, Inc.)

Studies utilizing reviews of ‘grey’ literature and interviews with local experts and resource users have highlighted the value of local ecological knowledge (LEK), and its use in conservation management. LEK has been used extensively to document, prevent and remove derelict fishing gear in the U.S waters of the Salish Sea. Over the past 15 years thousands of derelict nets have been removed through a program initiated due to anecdotal citizen and agency staff reports which eventually became systematically documented and used to garner removal efforts. Subsequent systematic efforts to assess ways to prevent derelict fishing nets and pots have been conducted through outreach to local tribes and recreational and commercial fishermen. These efforts have helped in assessments about bycatch rates of fish and invertebrates in derelict gear, reasons why gear is lost, and ways to prevent more accumulation of nets and pots. We will also discuss spatial assessments through GIS analysis of fish habitat and derelict vessels from datasets compiled from (a) historical fishing guide books with maps depicting rockfish fishing areas, with publish dates ranging from 1971 to 2008, and (b) interviews with 55 regional fishers and researchers. This report showcases the magnitude of LEK in a specific region as the catalyst for the development of a robust derelict fishing gear removal program, and its continued importance as the program has progressed to accomplish research projects, legislative changes, and prevention measures to reduce the impacts of derelict fishing gear.


Using Fishermen Survey to Realize the Behavior of Typical Fishing Gears upon Deployment and Potential Estimates of Gears Lost Annually in Norway.

presenting: Paritosh Chakor Deshpande (NTNU Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway); authors: Paritosh Chakor Deshpande (NTNU Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway), Gaspard Philis (Department of Biological Sciences, NTNU, Ålesund), Dina Aspen (NTNU), Annik Magerholm Fet

Plastics debris is an ever-growing concern adversely affecting coastal and marine ecosystem. Among the total marine plastic waste, a particularly troublesome waste fraction is the Abandoned, Lost or Discarded Fishing Gears (ALDFG) continuing to trap marine life for years upon release. Although there exists a direct link between the fishing activity and the occurrence of ALDFG in marine waters, it is imperative to scrutinize the practices adopted by fishermen and to understand the behavior of different gear types upon deployment in the marine waters. In this study, scientific survey was designed and conduced on 75 Norwegian fishermen in order to understand the typical life cycle of various fishing gears deployed in Norway namely, gillnets, trawls, longlines and seines. Responses received from the fishermen are further analyzed statistically to generate evidences on patterns in Norwegian fishing, typical gear lifespan, average lost potential of gear types and waste management practices of the damaged fishing gears.

The preliminary results indicates that, if not lost during deployment, gears like gillnets and longlines last for around 2 years while bigger fishing gears such as trawls and seines can last for around 5 and 7 years respectively, with regular repairs and replacements of their parts. Gillnets and longlines are most commonly get lost in the ocean upon deployment whereas bigger gears often lose connecting plastic ropes or metal wires during the operation.

The evidence from the survey can be used further to develop strategies for sustainable management of fishing gear resources in Norway. Conducting anonymous surveys is proven a robust strategy to retrieve scientific information and can easily be replicated elsewhere to build the global evidences around the ALDFG problematic.


Metrics for Evaluating the Local Ecosystem Service Impacts from Derelict Fishing Gear

presenting: Amanda Laverty (NOAA, United States); authors: Amanda Laverty (NOAA, United States), Adam Domanski (ECONorthwest)

Marine debris has a number of documented impacts to habitats and natural resources. Derelict fishing gear can cause physical degradation of habitat (via scouring), and in some cases can continue to catch, entangle, and kill wildlife (via ghostfishing). These resource-specific impacts also have broader ecosystem service effects, which are more difficult to quantify. Commonly applied in natural resource damage assessments, ecosystem service equivalency analysis approaches quantify the change in ecosystem services using one or more ecosystem service indicators such as faunal abundance, vegetation density, or some other measure of ecological function. We demonstrate the spatial and temporal information needs for applying a similar ecosystem-based approach to evaluate the local impacts of marine debris and the benefits of removal.


Crowdsourcing ghost net location in Lake Superior

presenting: Titus Seilheimer (Wisconsin Sea Grant, United States); authors: Titus Seilheimer (Seilheimer, United States), Heather Bliss (Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission), Al House (Apostle Islands Sport Fisherman’s Association)

Plastic pollution in the Great Lakes can come in many forms, but ghost nets are likely the most dangerous to boaters and anglers. These lost and unmarked nets can then become hazards, especially to anglers using trolling gear. Wisconsin Sea Grant, the Apostle Islands Sport Fishermen’s Association, Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, and the NOAA Marine Debris Program partnered in a campaign to raise awareness about ghost nets in the upper Great Lakes and to more efficiently remove them. The project informs anglers and boaters to the risks associated with marked commercial nets and ghost nets. Best management practices help commercial, tribal, and subsistence fishers to avoid conditions where nets could be lost. Anyone encountering a ghost net is encouraged to report the net, so it can be quickly removed. This project led to the removal of more than 5 km of ghost nets, which helps make the upper Great Lakes a safer place for recreation and enjoyment. Local knowledge from informed anglers and tribal law enforcement help to remove ghost nets more efficiently.


Preliminary Results from Material Flow Analysis (MFA) of Five Types of Fishing Gears Used in Norway

presenting: Paritosh Chakor Deshpande (NTNU, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway); authors: Paritosh Chakor Deshpande (Deshpande, Norway), Gaspard Philis (NTNU Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Ålesund), Dina Aspen (NTNU, Norwegian University of Science and Technology), Annik Magerholm Fet (NTNU, Norwegian University of Science and Technology)

Abandoned, lost and otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) may have significant adverse environmental effects on coastal and marine ecosystems. In order to employ sustainable fishing gear resource management, it is essential to understand life cycle processes and further monitor gear quantities in and between these processes. Material Flow Analysis (MFA) is an established environmental accounting tool used to assess flows and stocks of materials in industrial and natural systems suitable for this purpose.

In this study, we report on an MFA model to track material flows and stocks of fishing gear from capture fisheries in Norway through use and post-use processes. Based on data from gear producers and importers, fishermen, collectors, recycling and waste management companies, we quantify mass of the gear types trawls, seines, longlines, gillnets and traps. Preliminary results from the analysis shows that gillnets, longlines and traps are the main contributors to ALDFG in the ocean in Norway. These gear types are also more susceptible to get lost due to gear design, practice and ground deployment. We also identify an accumulating stock of gear shoreside for some gear types, which has a critical impact on overall recycling efficiency in the system.

The MFA approach shows great promise as a decision support tool for industry and policy-makers in exercising sustainable fishing gear resource management. The approach helps understand the extent of the problem on a regional level, identify contribution from gear types, target critical processes and evaluate feasible mitigation mechanisms. The model will be further developed to track plastic fractions embodied in the gear to understand assess the potential for gear recycling in Norway.