Fishermen Drew Whitfield and Joseph Andrews collected a lot of pots during a marine debris retrieval exercise in 2015. Photo by Gloria Putnam.
Efforts to remove derelict crab pots and other lost fishing gear from coastal waters will expand statewide in 2017 thanks to funding from the North Carolina General Assembly.
Earlier this year, legislators identified North Carolina Sea Grant as the administrator of the new funding. Sea Grant is working with the North Carolina Coastal Federation and the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries. The efforts are designed to improve habitat and water quality, as well as support coastal economies.
“The effort is designed to reduce the degradation of sensitive bottom habitat, unwanted capture of living marine species through ‘ghost fishing,’ and hazards to safety and navigation. At the same time, we will be gathering data to document the level of ghost fishing, crab pot loss, and ‘hot spots’ of gear accumulations,” explains Sara Mirabilio, Sea Grant fisheries specialist. “The assistance from fishermen with this annual cleanup will speed up Marine Patrol officers’ efforts to complete these tasks.”
The federation has run a localized crab pot removal program in recent years in the northeastern coastal region, with funding from Sea Grant and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Debris Program.
Members of the commercial fishing community have been hired throughout the entire North Carolina coast in 2017. They will remove the crab pots as needed Jan. 18 through Feb. 7, following mandatory training.
The North Carolina Coastal Federation is holding shoreline cleanups at three coastal locations on Jan. 14, 2017, to kick off this water-based cleanup activity. Trash bags, gloves and other cleanup materials will be provided. Check the federation’s calendar at www.nccoast.org/events for event and registration details.
North Carolina Sea Grant: Your link to research and resources for a healthier coast