Removal of Fishing Gear from Sensitive Cape Cod Habitats

A pile of recovered lobster traps on the back of a docked vessel.

The Center for Coastal Studies will identify, remove, and properly dispose of derelict fishing gear from sensitive areas along shorelines, breakwaters, shellfish flats, and in Cape Cod Bay.

Type of Project: Removal

Region: Northeast

Project Dates: September 2021 - August 2023

Who is involved?
With support from the NOAA Marine Debris Program, the Center for Coastal Studies is partnering with commercial and recreational fishermen, the Massachusetts Environmental Police, private and municipal solid waste disposal providers, beach-goers, and other coastal interest groups to remove derelict fishing gear from the beaches and bay in a two-year cleanup and public education effort.

What is the project and why is it important?
There is a 400-year history of fishing and shellfish farming throughout Cape Cod Bay, and commercial fishing continues to be a significant industry in the region. Inevitably, fishing gear is lost each year to storm action, boat propellers, conflict with other types of fishing gear, or inattentiveness. Both old aquaculture gear and lost, abandoned, or discarded lobster, scallop, and finfish fishing gear are present along the shoreline and in the Bay.

In addition to removing derelict lobster traps and parts, dragger nets, gillnet, buoys, monofilament, rope, twine, and cable from the beaches and bay in a two-year cleanup effort, partners will conduct extensive outreach to target communities. Best management and prevention practices developed in consultation with representatives from the shellfish, groundfish, and lobster industries will be shared with representatives of the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association, the South Shore Lobster Fishermen’s Association, municipal shellfish associations, and fisheries managers. This information will provide tools for fishermen to reduce the amount of fishing gear debris and other trash that may accidently enter the environment from their operations, and will encourage a proactive approach to preventing derelict gear.

For more information about this project, visit the Marine Debris Program Clearinghouse.