Annual lost fishing gear removal project underway

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Commercial fishermen from a previous lost fishing gear recovery project begin to unload a boat full of lost or abandoned crab traps. Photo: Coastal Federation of North Carolina

The Coastal Federation of North Carolina began the 2022 version of its lost fishery last weekg gear recovery project, an effort to remove lost crab traps and other gear can create serious hazards to boaters, wildlife and other fishermen.

For the past eight years, the federation has hired commercial fishermen to retrieve this lost fishing gear during the month of January, the annual closure of internal coastal waters to all crab, eel, fish and shrimp traps to the north. from the Highway 58 bridge to the Emerald Isle.

This year, on January 8, 24 commercial boatmen began collecting crab pots. Each crew works between three and five days in the month from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., depending on the weather. The project is taking place in parts of Marine Patrol District 1, which covers the northeast region, and District 2, the central coastal region.

“Being on the water almost every day as a full-time commercial fisherman, it’s important to remove lost traps and keep our waters clean and safe. This project provides work during the closed season and it is very valuable to me and many other participants, ”said Chris Forbes, a project participant from Hertford.

Once the jars are collected, they are best recycled. Crab pots salvaged from the Albemarle and Pamlico Sound area will be available for rightful owners to retrieve once the cleanup is complete.

Sara Hallas, coastal education coordinator for the federation and project manager, said she was happy to clean up the waterways and create work opportunities during this time of year.

“This project would not have been possible without the support of community organizations and our commercial men and women, who have always expressed the importance for them of helping with this project and protecting the waterways”, a- she declared.

This project is part of the federation’s overall effort to ensure that the coast of North Carolina is free of marine debris. Commercial men and women in partnership with the North Carolina Marine Patrol removed 3,128 jars from areas of the three Marine Patrol Districts in 2021.

Establishing an annual paid program for the removal of marine debris, including crab pots, is a key objective of the North Carolina Marine Debris Strategic Plan. The North Carolina General Assembly funded the project this year. It aims to improve habitat, water quality and support coastal economies.

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