By Submitted Story on March 25, 2018
More than 3,000 abandoned last crab pots were pulled from the water by commercial watermen hired by the North Carolina Coastal Federation during this year’s effort to remove marine debris from the sounds.
A total of 76 watermen took on the task along the coast of North Carolina in January.
The Lost Fishing Gear Recovery Project is led by the federation with $100,000 from the North Carolina General Assembly.
Work is done when fishing regulation require fishermen to remove their crab pots from the water. This year, the cleanup was in all three Marine Patrol districts as well as in 2017. The boats worked two to six days from Jan. 17 to 27.
The total collected was 3,496. In the northeast region of the North Carolina coast from the Virginia line to Ocracoke, 24 boats made up of 48 commercial watermen picked up 2,245 crab pots.
“This project has established truly remarkable partnerships among different user groups,” said Sara Hallas, coastal education coordinator for the federation and project lead said in a press release. “I’m proud both to be involved myself and of the federation for bringing everyone together. The combination of knowledge and expertise of these groups working together for a common goal is crucial to the project’s success, year after year.”
Pots typically end up lost because of storms. Lost pots can get hung up in bridges, or they can drift into channels over time, increasing the hazard to boats.
Commercial watermen can predict where lost pots might end up based on shifting currents and tides. Th project also creates opportunities for work during a slower time of the year due to colder waters and the multi-week crabbing closure.
“We are out working on the water almost every day and make a living off the sound. It takes care of us so we want to take care of it,” said John Silver, a waterman who annually participates in the District 1 cleanup.
Before 2017, this project was funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program to recover crab pots from Marine Patrol District 1. The funding from the General Assembly made the 2017 expansion possible.
The cleanup is held in partnership with North Carolina Marine Patrol, with additional financial support from the NOAA Marine Debris Program.
The federation also worked with Dare County Public Works for this project.
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