Divers Remove Abandoned Fishing Gear Off SD Coast

Ocean Defenders Alliance Says Abandoned Fishing Nets Threaten Marine Life

A team of scuba divers on Monday worked to remove hundreds of pounds of abandoned fishing gear off the coast of San Diego that was threatening sea life.

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The mission of the Ocean Defenders Alliance is to clean and protect coastal waters from "ghost gear," or leftover commercial fishing equipment, such as nets.

"These nets are killing all the time," said Kurt Lieber, who is with the Ocean Defenders Alliance. "Even today, they released some fish from it to live another day."

On Monday, Lieber and volunteers from Ocean Defenders Alliance removed about 400 pounds of commercial fishing nets about two miles south of the Point Loma marina.

Lieber, who founded the organization in 2002, said fishing nets frequently get caught in reefs or wrecks and are then abandoned.

"There's no law saying they have to get it out of there," he said.

The team said ghost gear such as nets can be dangerous to divers and the environment.

"All the stuff that cleans the water to sustain life [and] provide habitat for the fish… they die as well," said Lieber.

The organization is based in Orange County and was tipped off to the equipment abandoned about 100 feet deep off the Point Loma coast. Although crews removed a significant amount of netting on Monday, they said they are not finished.

"We're going to go back," said Lieber. "There's much, much more."

The group has cleared more than seven tons of nets from Southern California waters.

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