Incentivizing Marine Debris Removal with Commercial Fishers in Mississippi
To reduce the amount of marine debris in the Gulf of Mexico, Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United will work with commercial fishers to incentivize the proper disposal of marine debris encountered during fishing operations and assess the distribution of that debris.
Type of Project: Removal
Region: Gulf of Mexico
Project Dates: September 2022 - August 2025
Who is involved?
With support from the NOAA Marine Debris Program, the Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United (MSCFU) is leading an initiative to work with commercial fishers to reduce marine debris in the environment. MSCFU will work with the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center and the Mississippi Coastal Cleanup Program.
What is the project and why is it important?
Derelict fishing gear can cause huge problems for wildlife, the habitats they depend on, and the economy. When lost in the environment, gear can continue to trap and kill fish, crustaceans, marine mammals, sea turtles, and seabirds, also called ghost fishing. This type of debris can also damage habitats, cause problems for vessels, and compete with active fishing gear by trapping target species or ruining the gear.
Commercial fishers often encounter derelict gear during routine fishing operations, but there is not always a clear path to disposing of this debris properly. This project is working with commercial fishers to properly dispose of marine debris they encounter. It is also assessing both the distribution of marine debris encountered by fishers and recovery of vegetation impacted by marine debris within and along the Mississippi Sound.
Project partners are also continuing the implementation of a successful crab trap removal incentive program for Mississippi commercial shrimpers. This incentive program is being expanded to incorporate other debris, including plastics. Project partners are further expanding the program to a new commercial fishery in Mississippi by developing and implementing an incentive-based oyster farming gear recovery program for oyster farmers offshore of Deer Island, MS. Concurrently, the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center is also conducting monthly assessments of debris on Deer Island using uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAV) to identify target locations for oyster farming gear recovery and other debris removal activities. Finally, project partners will use lessons learned to develop guidance documents assessing the effectiveness of and potential for establishing similar incentive-based debris removal programs with the commercial fishing industries in other locations.