Derelict Crab Pot Removal and Outreach in Washington's Salish Sea

Derelict crab pots.

The Northwest Straits Foundation and its partners are conducting a three-year derelict crab pot survey and removal project supplemented with a targeted outreach campaign to recreational crabbers in the Washington marine waters of the Salish Sea. The impact of the outreach campaign on crab pot loss will be assessed and measured.

Type of Project: Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant

Region: Pacific Northwest

Project Dates: December 1, 2018 – November 30, 2021

Who is involved?
With support from a NOAA Marine Debris Removal Grant, the Northwest Strait Foundation, in collaboration with Natural Resource Consultants, and the Jefferson County  and Clallam County Marine Resources Committees, will conduct survey and removal operations of recreational crab pots in Port Townsend Bay, Jefferson County and Dungeness Bay, Clallam County in Washington’s Salish Sea. The project will also conduct targeted outreach to recreational fishers in the region and assess the impact of outreach on crab pot loss.  

What is the project and why is it important?
Crab pot loss in the Puget Sound and the Straits of Juan de Fuca is estimated to exceed 12,000 pots per year. Most of the lost pots are recreational. Derelict crab pots continue to trap and kill crabs and other species, entangle and potentially kill marine life, smother habitat, and act as a hazard to navigation. Removal of crab pots in areas of high loss, coupled with targeted outreach to prevent crab pots from being lost, will benefit the environment, the economy, and public safety.

The Northwest Strait Foundation and its partners will conduct 38 days of side scan sonar surveys to be followed by 46 days of gear removal during the summers of 2019, 2020, and 2021, to remove at least 1,000 derelict crab pots from the project areas. Targeted outreach efforts are planned for the 2019 and 2020 crabbing season, and will use the experiences and lessons learned from previous outreach campaigns in order to maximize the impact of the outreach efforts. The effectiveness of the outreach campaign will be evaluated through user surveys and by measuring crab pot loss rates before and after outreach efforts. The project directly addresses actions identified in the Puget Sound Lost Crab Pot Prevention Plan and in the Washington Marine Debris Action Plan.