Removing and Preventing TRAPS Across the Nation
The Virginia Institute of Marine Science is leading a national competitive grant program for the removal of derelict fishing traps, creating a national database for data collection, and assessing potential solutions to the environmental and economic impacts of lost gear.
Type of Project: Removal
Project Dates: August 2023 - July 2028
Who is involved?
With support from the NOAA Marine Debris Program through Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science is leading a competitive grant program for removal of derelict fishing traps across the country. As part of the project, the University of Georgia is conducting policy reviews and providing recommendations related to derelict trap prevention and management. Green Fin Studio will also develop a communications strategy, a website, and tools. They are working with Kenah Consulting to coordinate outreach to tribes, enhance underrepresented community participation in the program, and assist in tribal capacity building where appropriate.
What is the project and why is it important?
Derelict fishing gear impacts communities across the country. It includes gear such as lines, nets, pots, traps, and floats. Once lost or discarded, gear can continue to trap and kill wildlife, as well as compete with active fishing gear and damage important habitats. A study funded by the NOAA Marine Debris Program estimated that 3.3 million blue crabs are killed annually in derelict crab pots in the Chesapeake Bay, in addition to many other animals that are not the target of the traps. This can cause fishers to lose money as catch opportunities are lost and they pay to replace lost gear.
The Virginia Institute of Marine Science is working to reduce the impacts of derelict fishing gear in the Chesapeake Bay and across the United States. They are removing and recycling abandoned blue crab traps from Chesapeake Bay, as well as leading a competitive grant program for the removal of derelict fishing traps across the country as part of a Trap Removal, Assessment, and Prevention (TRAP) program. Removal projects will be eligible depending on the fishery and policies in a given location, and can include the removal of crab, lobster, and other trap types. A communications strategy and associated tools are being developed to support the project’s outreach efforts, including informational webinars for potential grant applicants and a metrics dashboard website to track progress. Project partner, Kenah Consulting, is working to enhance underrepresented community participation in the program by coordinating outreach to tribes and assisting in tribal capacity building, where appropriate.
Current efforts to address the issue of derelict fishing gear are disconnected. This important work allows organizations to access funds for removals and also coordinate the tracking, monitoring, and assessment of these efforts in a manner that provides consistency in data collection and analysis. A first-of-its-kind national online dashboard is being developed to standardize data collection. The Virginia Institute of Marine Science is also partnering with the University of Georgia to establish a Derelict Trap Policy Innovation Lab, bringing together researchers and students. Through the work of the Innovation Lab, the project will use the collected data to assess potential solutions to the ecological and socioeconomic impacts of lost gear nationwide.
For more information about this project, visit the Marine Debris Program Clearinghouse.