NOAA Assesses Impacts of Derelict Fishing Nets on the Coral Reef Habitats of Midway Atoll

In April, 2009, CRED scientists and partners participated in a resurvey of coral reef habitats at Midway Atoll to assess the long-term impact of derelict fishing nets and other marine debris on the coral community. The project was carried out in support of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM). During the debris surveys, coral colonies entangled by a derelict net are located, the net is removed for disposal, and the affected coral colony is marked. During subsequent reef surveys, the marked colonies are revisited and data are collected enabling scientists to track changes over time in the colonies’ health and survival.

In this second resurvey of Midway Atoll, divers photographed twenty-nine marked coral colonies. The photographs will be analyzed to determine the extent of damage to the colonies and their rate of recovery. In addition to the primary study of debris impacts, the team recovered three oceanographic instruments which had been collecting data on water movement around Midway since their deployment by CRED several months earlier.