Identification and Retrieval of Derelict Crab Pots to Reduce Bycatch in Barnegat Bay, New Jersey: Phase II
A fisherman holding a derelict crab pot.
Retrieval Boat Captain, Jeff Silady, shows off the "Valentine's Day Pot"-- a red, vinyl-coated ghost pot encrusted with Red-bearded Sponge, retrieved on Valentine's Day. (Photo Credit: Emily Heiser)
 A pile of derelict crab pots on the shore.
Thanks to the efforts of local retrieval teams, over 1,200 derelict crab pots were collected over the course of a two-year project in Barnegat Bay, New Jersey. (Photo Credit: Emily Heiser)

The Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey is teaming up with the NOAA Marine Debris Program to continue their work finding and removing derelict crab pots in New Jersey’s southern coastal bays.

Type of Project: Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant

Region: Mid-Atlantic

Project Dates: August 2017 - July 2019

Who is involved? The Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey (CWF), supported by a second NOAA Marine Debris Program Community-based Marine Debris Removal grant, is continuing its partnerships with local crab fisherman and Stockton University to retrieve derelict pots in Barnegat Bay, New Jersey. CWF is also continuing to work with the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Sciences (MATES), a specialized high school that focuses on marine and environmental sciences. Students from this program are helping to collect and analyze data from retrieved crab pots to help better understand the impacts of this marine debris on the coastal New Jersey environment.

What is the project and why is it important? Derelict crab pots can pose a threat to navigation, and can cause wildlife entanglement and entrapment of species such as the diamondback terrapin in New Jersey. When ghost fishing occurs and pots continue to catch commercial species after the pot has been lost, it can cause financial losses for fishermen. Through this project, CWF is continuing their efforts to survey, map, and remove derelict crab pots in Barnegat Bay, NJ. Building off the successes and lessons learned from a 2015 NOAA Marine Debris Program grant as well as their productive relationship with local crabbers, CWF is working to remove at least 600 additional derelict pots over the next two years. In addition to removing pots, CWF is gaining an understanding of the annual cycle of pot loss in New Jersey crab fisheries and the impacts of gear on different species. To help reduce gear loss in the future, the project is educating the public and crabbing communities through presentations and outreach materials such as interpretive signs to be displayed at boat launches. Removal data is informing state regulators on what conservation actions are needed for the diamondback terrapin, which is listed as a species of special concern in New Jersey.

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 A pile of derelict crab pots on the shore.
Thanks to the efforts of local retrieval teams, over 1,200 derelict crab pots were collected over the course of a two-year project in Barnegat Bay, New Jersey. (Photo Credit: Emily Heiser)