Recycling North Carolina Derelict Crab Pots into Oyster Reefs
Volunteers re-purposing crab pots.
Volunteers convert derelict crab pots into oyster habitat
Removing derelict crab pots and re-purposing them to create vital oyster habitat and revitalizing an economically essential fishery.

Project Dates: June 2013 - May 2014

What is the project?
The North Carolina Coastal Federation is conducting a pilot program to work with commercial fishermen in North Carolina to recycle derelict blue crab pots into 700 linear feet of oyster reefs. If this prototype program proves successful, it will provide strong incentives for the restoration and enhancement of the oyster fishery by the people who make a living off of the water. Employing commercial fishermen to use their considerable expertise to collect derelict crab pots and convert this debris into oyster habitat will ensure both environmental and economic benefits to the area.

Who is involved?
Local watermen are part of the project team collecting the derelict pots and promoting the project with the industry.

What does it accomplish?
This project, with support from the NOAA Restoration Center and the Marine Debris Program's Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant program, will remove an estimated four to seven tons of derelict and ghost crab pots from coastal waters. It will establish a practical and new way to rebuild oyster reefs by recycling marine debris into reef structure using the talents and expertise of the commercial fishing industry. The long-term goal for the project is to rebuild oyster populations of the eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) that has declined due to mechanical disturbance and diseases.

The North Carolina Coastal Federation works with citizens to safeguard the coastal rivers, creeks, sounds and beaches of North Carolina. The NCCF established new wetland water quality standards, tighter regulation of waste water discharges from phosphate mining and new standards for siting marinas. The NCCF has also successfully ensured the preservation of more than 10,000 acres of threatened coastal land.

What is something unique about the project?
This oyster habitat revitalization project, located in North Carolina's Pamlico Sound, brings commercial watermen, local conservationists, and college students together to tackle marine debris in an entirely new way.