Fishing Gear Recovery Project Begins in Cape Cod Bay

PROVINCETOWN – The Center for Coastal Studies has begun field work with area lobstermen to remove, document, and properly dispose of lost, abandoned or derelict fishing gear in Cape Cod Bay.

“Mobilizing Diverse Stakeholders to Remove Derelict Fishing Gear from Beaches & Bay” is a project funded by the NOAA Marine Debris Program. It takes place during the winter season, when lobster fishing is prohibited in the bay to protect the critically endangered North Atlantic right whales who feed here.

The CCS Marine Geology Program will first conduct side-scan sonar surveys in areas identified by fishermen as locations where lost gear likely exists.

Commercial fishing vessels from each area are enlisted to recover the gear by towing grappling equipment in targeted locations.  Once returned to shore, the derelict gear will be sorted for recycling, disposal, or return to rightful owners.

“Who better to help in this effort than the fishermen who have dedicated their lives to understanding the environment?” said Demi Fox, the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s Northeast Regional Coordinator.

“They have a critical desire to protect the ecosystem upon which their livelihoods depend, and we are grateful for their expertise. The NOAA Marine Debris Program appreciates the hard work of passionate partners like CCS and the fishing community.”

The Center for Coastal Studies works closely with the harbormasters in each port to organize the on-site activities.  As a partner in the program, Nauset Disposal provides containers for disposal and recycling. 

“This partnership with the Center for Coastal Studies is a natural fit with our support of the organization’s ‘1000 Friends of Right Whales’ campaign,” said Shawn DeLude, owner.

“They, like we, are dedicated to protecting our environment, and we are proud of our long term partnership promoting coastal conservation, protection and restoration.”

This project will add information to a regional database about the presence and prevalence of lost fishing gear, and will provide data on by-catch and gear functionality.  Previous removal efforts conducted by CCS in Cape Cod Bay have recovered over 31 tons of lost, abandoned or derelict lobster, gillnet, dragger, trawl and recreational fishing gear, including 780 lobster traps.

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