Lost Nets Hurt Coral Reefs

Lost nets become entangled on a coral reef in the NW Hawaiian Islands, doing damage for decades. Wave action on the net breaks pieces of coral off until the net breaks, when it is free to catch on new reefs and do more damage.
The impacts of derelict fishing gear on the Northwest Hawaiian Islands coral reef ecosystem are numerous. A primary effect of reef entanglement is structural damage to the coral substrate that comprises the physical habitat for reef biota. Waves acting on the ensnared nets and lines cause them to break off coral heads. The liberated gear subsequently snags and similarly damages other coral. The process continues until the derelict gear is removed, becomes weighted down with enough coral to sink, or it is fully incorporated into the reef structure.