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DATE: April 21, 2010 4:35:32 PM PDT
WWU Alumnus to Speak on Impact of Derelict Fishing Nets April 23

Contact: David Rossiter, assistant professor of Environmental Studies, WWU’s Huxley College of the Environment, (360) 650-3603; david.rossiter@wwu.edu

BELLINGHAM – Western Washington University alumnus Jeremy Davies of the Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC) will speak on “Derelict fishing gear hotspot analysis: using habitat suitability models to aid net recovery efforts in the Salish Sea” as part of Western Washington University’s Huxley College of the Environment speaker series at 3 p.m., Friday, April 23 at WWU’s Communications Facility room 125.

The event is free and open to the public.

In his discussion, Davies will cover his work done on lost or abandoned commercial fishing nets, often referred to as ghost or derelict nets.  These nets can remain in the marine environment for years and often become hazards for navigation, divers, and marine life. Derelict nets can degrade marine habitats by entangling and killing target and nontarget marine species. Death from derelict fishing gear is likely an issue for several species of concern and the probable impacts of derelict nets on populations and marine food webs has yet to be assessed.

Since 2002, the Northwest Straits’ Derelict Gear Removal Project has recovered over 1,200 derelict fishing nets in the greater Puget Sound region, documenting more than 60,000 marine invertebrates, fish, birds, and mammals in or on the nets. For vertebrate species found on or directly below the nets, 89 percent of the individuals are dead. Despite recovery efforts and the reduction of commercial fisheries in the area, an estimated 3,000 derelict fishing nets likely remain throughout the waters of Puget Sound and the Northwest Straits. Because much of the area remains under-surveyed, Davies conducted geospatial analyses to identify potential hotspots for ghost nets in the southern Salish Sea, based on known derelict net locations and other data.

Jeremy Davies is a biogeographer in the Conservation Biology Division
of the NWFSC, a research branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). He has worked at NWFSC since 2001 and prior employment has included: NOAA's National Marine Mammal Laboratory, the U.S. Forest Service, and various research projects at Oregon State University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He holds a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Biology from Oregon State University and a master’s degree in Biology from Western Washington University.

For more information contact David Rossiter, assistant professor, WWU’s Huxley College of the Environment, (360) 650-3603 or david.rossiter@wwu.edu

WWU’s Huxley College of the Environment is one of the oldest environmental colleges in the nation and a recognized national leader in producing the next generation of environmental stewards. The College’s academic programs reflect a broad view of the physical, biological, social and cultural world.  This innovative and interdisciplinary approach makes Huxley unique, and the College continues to earn international recognition for the quality of its programs.

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