O’ahu-based derelict fishing gear bounty to start January 9, 2023

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Derelict fishing gear wanted in exchange for bounty payments

Hawai’i Pacific University’s (HPU’s) Center for Marine Debris Research has announced the start of a new project. This project, partially funded by a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Debris Program Removal Grant, will pay a bounty for derelict fishing gear (DFG) found at sea, removed and brought back to O’ahu by commercial fishers. The main objectives of this project are to:

  • Remove 100 metric tons of DFGs from central North Pacific Ocean waters over the course of two years (50 tons annually)
  • Document the location and sizes of removed DFG

DFG is made of both lost and abandoned fishing gear, including ghost nets. DFG is primarily made of plastic and constitutes most of the plastic pollution washing ashore on Hawai’i’s beaches. Before reaching the shoreline, ocean currents tangle it up into large masses. These masses of plastic debris entangle and drown marine animals and smother and kill Hawai’i’s precious coral reefs as they drift to the shoreline. They are also navigational hazards in the ocean. This project applies to all fishers who are commercially licensed in the state of Hawaii and whose primary port is on the island of O’ahu.

Commercial fishers must be registered in the bounty project with HPU before performing DFG removal. Fully registered fishers will be paid $1 to $3 per dry pound for eligible DFG found at sea and brought back to O’ahu. See the HPU website to learn the actual rates. Vessels in the Hawai’i-based longline fleet are automatically registered through the Hawai’i Longline Association. Registered fishers will be asked to notify HPU’s project coordinator as they approach a harbor with DFG. HPU staff will receive the DFG from fishers at the dock.

Eligible DFG for a bounty is abandoned fishing gear found floating at sea that weighs over 100 pounds; this is typically the size of half a pickup truck bed. HPU reserves the right to refuse particular DFG or modify the acceptable types and amounts of DFG at any time. Removal of gear that is actively being fished in a legal manner is prohibited by this project, and ineligible for bounty payments. Removal of gear that appears to be anchored in place intentionally, such as suspected private fish aggregating devices (FADs), is also ineligible for bounty payments. If gear appears to be illegal, email DAR.

Disclaimer: The nature of towing, lifting, or otherwise engaging with large masses of DFG at sea makes this project inherently dangerous. All activities engaged with the intent of participating in the bounty project will be conducted at the participants’ own risk. More information on this can be found at the website linked below. Fishing on DFG is common practice in Hawai’i. If DFG is being actively fished, consider potential conflicts with other fishers before removing it.

For more information, and to register to be eligible for the bounty (registration closing on February 28, 2023), visit HPU’s website.

Posted January 6, 2023