At-sea Retrieval and Removal of Derelict Fishing Gear from the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
Derelict fishing gear in the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (SBNMS) and the Gulf of Maine is a pervasive problem with chronic impacts. The problem impacts fishermen by causing them to spend valuable fishing time disentangling the derelict gear and it impacts NOAA and the public by degrading marine resources in the sanctuary including the possible entanglement of endangered and protected marine mammals. Fishermen are frustrated with this recurring problem and want to act responsibly but have few options for addressing it.
Working with a local dragger, the SBNMS conducted a demonstration project that helped to clean up the sanctuary and protect its resources and served as the prototype for developing a long-term solution to this pervasive problem in the sanctuary and the Gulf of Maine.
This proposal builds on the lessons learned from the demonstration project completed in 2007 and has three primary objectives:
- Assessment: Assess where DFG is likely to be found, and locate conglomerations for later retrieval.
- Retrieval and disposal: Retrieve DFG in one of three ways: a) by returning to locations identified previously; b) by retrieving gear reported by fishermen; or c) retrieving gear with a non-invasive collecting device. Disposal of the retrieved gear is a critical and essential part of the proposed work and requires coordination with the Town of Scituate. The outcome of this objective will be to retrieve and dispose of two metric tons of DFG.
- Education and outreach: Efforts to make fishermen and other users of the sanctuary aware of the detrimental effects of derelict gear on ecosystem health and the benefits of removing it.
Captain Frank Mirarchi, Captain of the fishing vessel Barbara L. Peters
Mark Patterson, Scituate Harbormaster
- Cleaning up the sanctuary
- Reducing the entanglement hazard to marine life
- Collaborating with commercial fishermen to develop solutions
- Understanding the scope of the marine debris problem
- Reducing fishermen’s fixed costs (handling the derelict gear)
- Conserving fishery resources through the removal of entanglement hazards
Capt. Frank Mirarchi and project sanctuary staff
lead Ben Cowie-Haskell display their successful
catch of derelict lobster traps from the Stellwagen
Bank National Marine Sanctuary off of Massachusetts.
Photo courtesy of Dave Haley.
Trawler Barbara L. Peters is the vessel used in the
demonstration project. Photo courtesy of F. Mirarchi.
Derelict traps are hauled away for disposal by a
private hauling company. Photo courtesy of B.
Photo slideshow video of debris removal conducted aboard the Barbara L. Peters, captained by Frank Mirarchi.
Download the 2007 1-pager handout (pdf 977KB) on this project here.
Download the 2008 1-pager handout (pdf 356KB) on this project here.
This program is funded through NOAA's Ocean Service, Office of Response & Restoration, Marine Debris Program.