Coastal Federation nets its 10th lost fishing gear collection | Coastal Review

Retrieved crab pots that may be identified and reused are set aside to be reclaimed. Photo: North Carolina Coastal Federation

The North Carolina Coastal Federation has announced that the 10th year of its Lost Fishing Gear Recovery Project is wrapping up, and usable, tagged lost gear is ready to be reclaimed.

The Coastal Federation said that along the state’s coast, 50 commercial watermen and women collectively spent nearly 150 working days on the water throughout January retrieving lost crab pots from the sounds.

An additional part of the project will take place in Marine Patrol District 1 in the northeast region, the nonprofit said. Whole pots, in good condition, recovered from the Albemarle and Pamlico Sound region will be available for the rightful property owners to claim. This includes crab pots retrieved from the Virginia state line and Manteo to Swan Quarter and from the Outer Banks to Ocracoke.

Crab pots recovered in the northeast region that are in good enough condition to be used again, have been set aside for reclaiming. Only pots with an identifiable buoy recovered from the Albemarle-Pamlico Sound area are available for this reclaiming process.

Those interested in reclaiming ownership of any of the gear recovered from the northeast coast will need to make an appointment with Coastal Education Coordinator Sara Hallas weekdays from Feb. 19 to March 1. To schedule an appointment call 252-473-1607.

“A valuable part of this project is having the opportunity to return some of the gear to the fishers. With the value of recycling the gear being only five cents per pound and the cost of a new crab pot rising to over $50, it just makes sense,” Hallas said.

Identification will be required upon claiming any gear. Unclaimed gear will be recycled to the best extent possible.

This project is part of the Coastal Federation’s goal to ensure the North Carolina coast is free of marine debris. Establishing an annual paid program for marine debris removal — including crab pots — is a key objective of the N.C. Marine Debris Action Plan. Through field surveys, marine debris cleanup crews reported over 85% of the debris removed from North Carolina’s estuaries between 2019 and 2022 is the result of damaged and lost docks, piers, boat houses, and similar structures.

For more information on the progress of the Lost Fishing Gear Recovery Project over the past 10 years, visit Coastal Federation’s website. The Coastal Federation publishes Coastal Review.