Commercial fishermen needed for recovery of lost fishing gear
Published 3:43 pm Saturday, December 3, 2022
The North Carolina Coastal Federation is set to begin its ninth year of the Lost Fishing Gear Recovery Project in January 2023. But before the effort can get underway, NCCF needs the help of commercial watermen and women along the northern and central coast to sign up to help find and collect lost crab pots.
Every year, crab pots and other fishing gear are lost in the sounds in a variety of ways. Lost gear can get hung up or drift into channels, creating serious hazards to boaters, wildlife and other fishermen, stated a press release from NCCF. Since 2014, the federation has led the Lost Fishing Gear Recovery Project to remove lost crab pots from North Carolina sounds.
With the help of various partners, commercial fishermen and women are hired to collect the pots during the annual closure of internal coastal waters to all crab, eel, fish and shrimp pots, from January 1-31 north of the Highway 58 bridge to Emerald Isle.
Those interested in taking part in helping to remove the lost fishing gear – mainly crab pots – can apply on the NCCF website at bit.ly/3XJEAta. Applications are being accepted through December 20, 2022. To be considered, captains must have a valid North Carolina standard commercial fishing license.
In 2022, commercial watermen and women in partnership with N.C. Marine Patrol removed 1,995 pots from select areas within three Marine Patrol districts.
The 2023 project will take place in select areas within Marine Patrol District 1, which covers the northeast region of the coast, and District 2, which covers the central region of the coast.
Once the pots are collected, they are recycled to the best extent possible. Crab pots that are recovered from the Albemarle and Pamlico Sound region during the project will be available for the rightful property owners to reclaim after the cleanup is complete, noted NCCF.
The project is funded by the N.C. Commercial Fishing Resource Fund Grant Program and is intended to improve habitat and water quality and support coastal economies. “We all take great pride in our livelihoods and waterways. In my opinion, this project has been unbelievable and I’m glad to see it continue,” shared Mike Mixon, a project participant whose homeport is in Wanchese.
Sara Hallas, coastal education coordinator for NCCF and project leader, said she is most grateful for the community partnerships that enable this program to continue to clean up the waterways and create opportunities for work during the winter. “I’m so appreciative of the North Carolina Commercial Fishing Resource Fund and its supporting committees that see the importance of this project and have provided funding for the next three years.”
This project is part of NCCF’s overall effort to ensure the N.C. coast is free of marine debris. Establishing an annual paid program for marine debris removal – including crab pots – is a key objective of the N.C. Marine Debris Strategic Plan. For more information on the progress of the Lost Fishing Gear Recovery Project over the past years, visit nccoast.org/project/crabpotproject/.