Fishing Gear Recovery Effort Planned by Center for Coastal Studies

lobsteringPROVINCETOWN – The Center for Coastal Studies will be working this winter to clean up lost, abandoned or derelict fishing gear from Cape Cod and Massachusetts Bays.

The organization was awarded a $95,000 grant through NOAA’s Marine Debris Program to survey likely areas where fishing gear is expected and work with commercial lobstermen to identify, remove, document, and properly dispose of lost gear from January through April.

“We try to isolate areas where gear will be likely to be found and recover it with grappling techniques,” said Laura Ludwig, the marine debris project coordinator with the Center for Coastal Studies.

The grappling procedure involves dragging a hook behind a boat.

“We like to be as precise as possible and so we do sonar surveys in advance of the recovery,” Ludwig said.

This year the crews will be adding to their recovery efforts with commercial divers to recover gear from areas where grappling is not an option.

Previous efforts in 2013 and 2014 recovered more than 16 tons of gear inlcluding 660 lobster traps, half of which were returned to owners.

The entire project runs through next November but recovery efforts will only take place during the winter.

“That is the time when the Massachusetts lobster fishery is on hiatus for the right whale season,” Ludwig said. “So all of the lobster gear will be removed from Cape Cod Bay and parts of Massachusetts Bay so that we will not risk running into gear that is being actively fished.”

The Center for Coastal Studies will work closely with the NOAA Marine Debris Program, the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, the Massachusetts Historical Commission, The Provincetown Harbormaster’s Office and Massachusetts lobstermen’s associations.

They will also contract with commercial lobstermen and divers to conduct the recovery work.


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