We did it….With your help, we passed ESB 5661 out of the Senate Monday night on a vote of 47-1. As you know, this is a very important bill for Puget Sound. ESB 5661 REQUIRES Commercial Fisherman to report lost gear to WDFW within 24 hours!! Under the current voluntary reporting system, there have only been 2 lost net reports filed by Commercial Fisherman in the past 10 years. The Northwest Straits Commission estimates that 25-30 nets are lost each year. This bill will allow WDFW to build a data base of known ghost net locations and eventfully get them removed as funding becomes available. These nets kill thousands of birds, mammals and fish each year, not to mention the estimated 800,000 invertebrates killed annually by these nets.
Many of you might have seen the report on this issue last week on King 5 News. They talked about the time and energy it takes for divers to locate and remove lost gear. Finding this gear can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. This bill will help divers concentrate on specific areas using the WDFW data base.
The bill is now in the House and is scheduled for a public hearing in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on Feb 17th at 8:00 AM. Many of us will be there to testify in favor of the bill. You can do you part by contacting your 2 House members and urge them to support ESB 5661!