a number of years, the division’s N.C. Marine Patrol had removed
derelict pots during the no-potting period. “Crab-pot cleanup, we’ve
been doing that since the early ’90s, maybe even earlier,” said Capt.
Donny Twyne with the patrol.
The pots are not just an aesthetic problem, they can also pose a danger, which is the main reason they need to be picked up.
want to make sure we’re not trashing our environment, and that it’s not
a hazard for jet-skiers, windsurfers and all the ways we use the
water,” Twyne said.
partnership formed three years ago when local crabbers began helping in
the effort to clear crab pots from the waters of the Albemarle,
Currituck, Pamlico and Roanoke sounds.
“This came from us talking to local fishermen around here as well as North Carolina Sea Grant,” Bayliss said.
Grant provided money for the project during its first two years. Since
then, a grant was secured through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Agency’s marine debris program but Sea Grant is still involved,
providing tablets with GPS tracking capabilities to the captains
participating in the program.
project seems to have benefited everyone involved. It helps the patrol
build relations with commercial fishermen, Twyne said. Crabbers are
paid for their time on the water during a period when they typically
aren’t making money from crabbing.
are also advantages for the patrol. “It helps save costs and manpower
for the state,” Twyne said. “Although we’re still out there
(monitoring). It creates a good community for everyone.”
grant funding was available to help offset the expense of removing the
derelict pots, some legal issues had to be addressed.
marine patrol closes the waters, they’re the only ones allowed to be
out there picking up the pots,” Bayliss explained “We are allowed to
hire agents of the state. All the fishermen we hire under this project
… they are screened for criminal background and fisheries violations.”
local crabbers to pick up derelict pots has proved to be efficient.
“We’re finding that generally, because these guys are crabbers, they
know these areas,” she said. “There is an advantage in their inherent
knowledge of the water.”
number of derelict pots changes from year to year, largely a result of
weather events that can break the traps free of their buoys and scatter
them. In 2014, the first year of the effort, fewer than 400 pots were
past year we had over 1,000,” Balyiss said. “What you’re seeing there
is a lot of weather patterns. You look at a Fourth of July hurricane
(Hurricane Arthur) and a couple of big blows.”
of the goals of the project is to track where the pots come to rest.
With 400 pots, entering the data was manageable but with more than
1,000, the work became almost overwhelming.
the past, recording the information was cumbersome and not consistent,”
said Gloria Putnam, an extension specialist with Sea Grant. “They had
to write down each latitude and longitude.”
tablets provided by Sea Grant track each pot as it is retrieved and the
information can be downloaded without having to record everything by
said one of the long-term goals of tracking where pots are found is to
reduce the number that are lost each year. “Our research shows 17
percent are lost every year. That’s a lot of pots,” she said.
what to do with the pots also presents legal challenges, Bayliss said,
adding that just disposing of them at the dump would be the simplest
solution. However, in some cases, the pots can be identified.
there are identifiers on the pot and the resources are available, they
are returned (to the owners),” Bayliss explained, but with only a dozen
crabbers participating, tracking down the owners can be difficult.
federation, since beginning the program three years ago, has hosted a
shoreline cleanup of an Outer Banks area on the Saturday prior to the
crab pot effort. The idea is a holistic approach that involves area
year we’re going to be going to the north side of Wanchese Harbor.
Storm surge brings everything into the marsh there,” Bayliss said.
volunteers donned boots and tromped through the muck and mire of an
estuary marsh for two and a half hours on Saturday morning, Jan. 16.
They filled a large dumpster with debris, mostly plastic bottles but
also sheets of plastic, a couple of fish-cleaning tables and some
volunteers on the scene said the amount of Styrofoam in the environment
was overwhelming. It was everywhere and not easily or quickly gathered
with the rest of the debris, despite the team’s best efforts, so some
of the material had to be left behind. Still, Bayliss and Twyne agree,
the cleanup efforts have been successful and well received.
“They (at the Division of Marine Fisheries) have been very, very receptive to this project,” Bayliss said.
article is provided by Coastal Review Online, an online news service
covering North Carolina's coast. For more news, features, and
information about the coast, go to www.coastalreview.org.)