NOAA's Marine Debris Blog

Keepin' the Sea Free of Debris!

Fishermen Take the Lead in California Removal Efforts

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Marine debris is a pervasive problem and unfortunately, our golden state on the west coast is not immune. However, the NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP) is supporting some innovative projects that are actively addressing this problem. To give you a cool example, California is the site of a nifty marine debris removal project that started last summer.

Led by the SeaDoc Society at the University of California, Davis and working with area fishermen, this project in Northern and Central California is working to fight a big debris problem: derelict crab traps. Derelict traps can cause all kinds of problems for marine life, recreational boaters, and for fishermen. Apart from losing expensive traps, the fishery suffers as derelict traps continue to capture crabs that could otherwise be caught by an active fisherman (a concept known as ghost fishing). To address this problem, commercial fishermen are going out during the closed crabbing season to recover lost pots.

A boat full of derelict crab traps collected by commercial fishermen.

The F/V Maureen full of derelict crab traps collected by commercial fishermen, including boat owner Bob Maharry . (Photo Credit: The SeaDoc Society)

These fishermen are collecting over 750 derelict crab pots, effectively restoring over 8,000 square feet of seafloor habitat, and then doing something pretty cool with them: selling them back. The fishermen sell the pots they recover back to the Humboldt Fishermen’s Marketing Association (HFMA), who then sells them to their original owner at a fleet-agreed price per trap. The proceeds are what fund the project the following year.

This project is building off a past effort supported by the MDP and its goal is to become self-sustaining so that it can continue as long as it’s needed. For more on this project, check out the project profile on our website.

Keep your eyes on our blog for more on our California region this week!

Author: NOAA Marine Debris Program

The NOAA Marine Debris Program envisions the global ocean and its coasts, users, and inhabitants free from the impacts of marine debris. Our mission is to investigate and solve the problems that stem from marine debris, in order to protect and conserve our nation's marine environment, natural resources, industries, economy, and people.

One thought on “Fishermen Take the Lead in California Removal Efforts

  1. This is good news that I’ve heard about recently form other people that care about the coast as well as spend a lot of time cleaning up.

    Who is getting the Bodega Bay crab fishers moving on this?

    I find tons (literally) of crab gear washed up on the beaches of Point Reyes National Seashore.

    Have a look here for some of what I have picked up.

    http://coastodian.org/commercial-fishermen-are-extrmely-conscious-of-their-impact/

    All who fish need to do better at losing less gear as well as picking up the gear they do lose. And they lose LOTS of gear.

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