Dungeness crab fishing grounds from Crescent City to Morro Bay may be littered with thousands of lost crab pots. These pots are not “derelict (abandoned) gear.” Fishermen do not want to lose a $200 crab trap; however, the North Coast is a rough coastline with huge winter swells that can roll and tumble pots along the seabed. Most of these pots are in 200 to 600 feet of water, and if their rot-cords fail, they may continue to “ghostfish” for crab and other species. Pots attached to long buoy lines may entangle whales and dolphins. The California Lost Fishing Gear Recovery Project encourages people to report lost gear, and then hires experienced commercial SCUBA divers to remove it. More recently, scientists have been working with crab fishermen in Eureka to develop a local fisherman-led gear removal program. This project seeks to expand this program to the entire North Coast. The objective will be to reaffirm and grow industry support for a community-based, fishermen-led crab gear recovery effort. The team will also explore a variety of strategies for achieving financial self-sustainability for lost crab gear recovery. By the project's end, the California Lost Fishing Gear Recovery Project plans to be well-positioned to support North Coast crab fishermen in their efforts.
Setting the Stage for Community-Based, Fishermen-Led Lost Crab Fishing Gear Recovery