Central Long Island Sound Derelict Lobster Gear Assessment, Removal, and Prevention
The Cornell Cooperative Extension Marine Program is teaming up with the NOAA Marine Debris Program to survey and remove derelict lobster traps in Central Long Island Sound.
Type of Project: Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant
Project Dates: August 2017 – February 2020
Who is involved?
The Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) Marine Program, with support from a NOAA Marine Debris Program Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant, is partnering with Long Island Sound (LIS) lobstermen to remove derelict/abandoned gear in commercial fishing areas in the Central Long Island Sound (CLIS).
What is the project and why is it important?
Derelict lobster traps can continue to fish after they have been lost and can impact the valuable and already-threatened LIS lobster population. The CLIS, and particularly the area targeted for removal, has historically been an area of significant trap deployment by both New York and Connecticut commercial lobstermen. Because of the logistics of distance, time, and effort, lobster traps in the CLIS also tend to be abandoned more frequently than other areas. Current survey data shows that these waters also have high concentrations of species of concern including American lobsters, black sea bass, and tautog. This project’s trap removal efforts is working to mitigate both target and bycatch species trap mortality.
This project is removing, as well as quantifying the extent and distribution of, derelict lobster gear in New York and Connecticut waters of the LIS. It builds upon other highly-successful projects that were funded by The Fishing for Energy/National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Long Island Sound Futures Fund/National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and past NOAA funding. This project marks the first trap removal program encompassing the entire LIS while opening participation to commercial lobstermen that possess current New York and Connecticut licenses. During removal, a specialized long-line grapple system is being used to retrieve derelict lobster traps. For every retrieved trap, species are examined, removed, and recorded and gear condition is assessed. All derelict lobster gear is returned to recycling containers at shore-side sites in the ports of Mt. Sinai and Mattituck on Long Island. Total debris to be removed from the LIS is estimated to be 94.3 metric tons, restoring approximately 16,640 acres.