Friday, February 3rd, 2023
Friday, February 3rd, 2023

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Washington DFW provides toll-free number to report derelict fishing gear

Boaters, divers and others who encounter derelict fishing gear
in Washington’s marine waters can report their findings using a new
toll-free phone number: (855) 542-3935.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) recently
added the dedicated phone line to expedite handling reports of
ghost nets, abandoned crab pots and other derelict fishing

“We want to make reporting derelict fishing gear easy,” said
Brad Sele, operations manager for the WDFW Fish Management
Division. “The sooner we can get that information into our
database, the sooner we can get the gear out of the water.”

A major partner in that effort is the Northwest Straits
Conservation Initiative, a non-profit organization that shares
WDFW’s database of derelict gear and coordinates many of the
gear-removal projects in northern Puget Sound.

Working in partnership with WDFW and others, Northwest Straits
has removed more than 3,800 derelict fishing nets and 2,000
abandoned crab pots from Puget Sound since 2002. More than 211,000
fish, birds and marine mammals were found entangled in that

“That reflects only a fraction of the fish and wildlife actually
affected by derelict gear,” Sele said. “But we’ve made real
progress in addressing this hazard in recent years, and we
appreciate people’s help in locating derelict gear we may not know

Those calling to file a report are asked the date of the
sighting, type of gear lost or found, approximate water depth,
general location and – if known – the longitude and latitude of the

Reports can also be filed on WDFW’s website at or at the Northwest Straits
Conservation Initiative’s website and
phone number (360) 428-1084. More information about the
gear-removal program is available on page 23 of the Fishing in
Washington rules pamphlet for the 2011-12 season.

“This is a no-fault program,” Sele said. “Our focus is on
removing lost and abandoned gear, not to assign blame or assess
penalties for leaving it behind.”

Regardless of the circumstances, Sele warns people against
attempting to remove derelict fishing gear by themselves.

“This gear can potentially be as dangerous to humans as it is to
fish and wildlife,” he said. “If you see this stuff in the water,
give us a call or file a report online.”


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