A pile or derelict crab traps next to a shed.

Recovering Large Debris and Expanding Industry Stewardship in New Jersey

Stockton University will expand its industry-led derelict fishing gear removal efforts while also removing around two dozen abandoned and derelict vessels in an effort to enhance New Jersey’s coastal bays.

Type of Project: Removal

Region: Mid-Atlantic

Project Dates: July 2023 - June 2026

Who is involved?

With support from the NOAA Marine Debris Program through Inflation Reduction Act funding, Stockton University is working with commercial crabbers, aquaculture businesses, the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Services, the Jacques Couseau National Estuarine Research Reserve, and the New Jersey State Police Marine Bureau to remove derelict fishing gear and abandoned and derelict vessels in an effort to enhance New Jersey’s coastal bays.

What is the project and why is it important?

Along the east coast of the United States, estuaries comprise more than 30,000 square kilometers of essential habitat, supporting a wide variety of wildlife. Atlantic coastal bays provide habitat for many species, including black sea bass, tautog, diamondback terrapins, and more. Commercial and recreational estuarine and saltwater fishing and boating activities in these areas generate millions of jobs across the United States, driving local economies and ways of life. Large marine debris items such as derelict fishing gear and abandoned and derelict vessels can harm wildlife, damage habitats, endanger active vessels and navigation, and cause other problems for people, ecosystems, and our economy. 

Over the past decade, Stockton University has surveyed more than 5,000 abandoned, lost, or otherwise discarded pieces of fishing gear throughout the Mullica River-Great Bay Estuary in southern New Jersey. At the same time, many communities are dealing with the challenges of abandoned and derelict vessels, and multiple state agencies have noticed an increase in vessel debris throughout the state. 

This debris poses numerous threats to coastal waterways and can damage sensitive habitats. To address these threats and prevent future harm, Stockton University is recovering derelict fishing gear and removing abandoned and derelict vessels throughout coastal bays of New Jersey. This work is in collaboration with trained commercial crabbing partners, with an aim of removing approximately 2,000 pieces of gear from local waterways. Up to 25 abandoned and derelict vessels are also being removed from the Atlantic City area and throughout coastal New Jersey.

Last updated Tue, 10/24/2023 - 07:28