These nets can also catch overfished populations, sharks, seals, and more unintended catch.
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fish aggregation device
Credit: RainervonBrandis / Getty Images

In the South, we're lucky to have so much shoreline and so many beautiful beaches to visit, whether on vacation or in our own backyard. And given our love for the ocean and beach, we want to do everything in our power to protect it.

Now, unfortunately, it appears that something is amiss on the beaches of Palm Beach County with so-called fish aggregation devices washing up on the shore. Known as FADs, these netted creations catch already overfished populations and additionally pose the risk of killing sea turtles and other animals. As Kimberly Miller recently reported for the Palm Beach Post, FADs are continuing to wash up on Palm Beach (as well as many more beaches around Florida and the Caribbean) and they are, indeed, endangering sea turtles, sharks, and other unintended bycatch.

“The presence of these things around the Caribbean is starting to get more attention,” David Kerstetter, an associate professor with Nova Southeastern University’s Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences, told the Palm Beach Post. “Things like sea turtles can get entangled in them and the other concern when they break free is all that netting and other material smashes into coral reefs.” These FADs also contribute to plastic pollution in an already overtaxed ocean. So far, ten FADs have been reported on Palm Beach since 2013, and all signs don't point to things slowing down.

Even if you're not the fisherman deploying these unfortunate means for catching fish, there's still much you can do to help protect Florida's precious beaches. To name a few ideas: You can make a donation to the Sea Turtle Conservancy, based in Gainesville, Florida, or volunteer with the Ocean Conservancy by participating in a coastal cleanup in Florida and beyond. Or, to become more educated on saving the ocean ad marine life, you can visit the Florida Coastal & Ocean Coalition's website here.

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Want to help directly on your  plate? Try ordering a vegan or vegetarian option once in a while and or try participating in Meatless Mondays. If you're craving fish or seafood, check out this handy resource on sustainable fish from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. You may be just one person—but just like our oceans—you can create your very own ripple effect.