Lost nets and other heavy fishing equipment can damage ecosystems as they are moved by tides and waves along the sea floor. Derelict fishing gear also impacts navigational safety, damages active fishing equipment and boats, and causes economic repercussions for coastal industries and communities across the country. The laws and regulations governing the removal of derelict fishing gear vary by fishery and state. To assess the feasibility of implementing innovative removal strategies in their states, New England managers need a better understanding of the current legal framework governing derelict fishing gear removal and how existing state marine debris programs are authorized. In 2015, the National Sea Grant Law Center received a grant award from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Fishing for Energy Partnership to meet this need. “Increasing Awareness of the Legal Framework Governing Removal of Marine Debris and Placement of Fishing Gear in the New England Region” aims to help New England managers assess the feasibility of implementing innovative derelict fishing gear removal strategies in their states.
As a first step towards increasing awareness and improving understanding of state derelict fishing gear laws and regulation, the NSGLC compiled the relevant laws and regulations related to derelict fishing gear for eleven priority states as identified by NFWF (Washington, California, Maine Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maryland, Virginia, Florida, Alabama, Connecticut, and Rhode Island). Relevant statutory and regulatory provisions were identified through traditional legal research methods. Each state compilation was sent to appropriate state agency contacts for review and feedback.
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