Conserve Wildlife Blog

Marine Debris Makes Conserve Wildlife Foundation ‘Crabby’

March 1st, 2016

CWF leading the charge to provide free recycling and disposal of derelict fishing gear throughout the Barnegat Bay watershed

by Lindsay McNamara, Communications Manager

Abandoned crab pots unnecessarily trap fish and harm the marine ecosystem, according to the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ. (Image: NOAA)

Abandoned crab pots unnecessarily trap fish and harm other marine life. Photo credit: NOAA

 

Conserve Wildlife Foundation is proud to collaborate with the Fishing for Energy partnership — an innovative public-private effort that provides commercial fishermen a no-cost solution to recycle old and unusable fishing gear — to recycle an estimated 26,000 pounds of derelict crab pots and other marine debris collected throughout the Barnegat Bay watershed as part of a removal project over the next two years. On Friday, we celebrated our new project with our Fishing for Energy partners at a press event in Waretown, New Jersey.

 

Abandoned or lost fishing equipment can threaten marine wildlife, like diamondback terrapins, in a number of ways, including by damaging ecosystems as nets and heavy equipment settle upon the ocean floor and through “ghost fishing,” wherein gear continues to catch fish and other wildlife even if abandoned or lost. Gear also can impact navigational safety, damage fishing equipment and boats that are in use, and have economic repercussions on fishing and shipping enterprises and coastal communities.

 

In just six days, RJ Cericola and other local fishermen have collected over 160 abandoned crab pots!

Look at all the abandoned crab pots removed so far!

Look at all the abandoned crab pots removed so far!

 

“By recycling thousands of dangerous abandoned crab pots, our team is protecting vulnerable wildlife such as the diamondback terrapin, which inhabit the same shallow coastal waters in Barnegat Bay where pots are often lost or abandoned,” said Stephanie Egger, CWF wildlife biologist and principal investigator. “Terrapin population declines, reduced growth, and changes in sex ratios have been directly attributed to by-catch mortality in crab pots. We are so thrilled to work with local fishermen and all of our project partners, particularly the Fishing for Energy program, NOAA, and the New Jersey Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership.”

 

This two-year marine debris removal project, led by CWF and supported by a NOAA Marine Debris Program Community-based Marine Debris Removal grant, is working with local crabbers to locate and remove more than 1,000 derelict crab pots from Barnegat Bay. As part of this project, CWF is partnering with the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science, Monmouth University, Stockton University, ReClam the Bay, New Jersey Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership (NJCWRP), and the recreational and commercial fishing community to identify, retrieve, and inventory derelict crab pots. The project is also conducting education and outreach activities on the impacts of derelict crab pots including the development of a lesson plan for schools, presentations for the community, developing informational print materials, and collaborating with the WeCrab education and outreach project led by the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve/Rutgers University and Stockton University.

MATES students collecting data on the derelict crab pots.

MATES students collecting data on the derelict crab pots.

 

“NJCWRP is proud to support this coalition of partners working on innovative projects to benefit the ecological quality of Barnegat Bay,” said Russell Furnari, chair, NJCWRP. “Removing thousands of these derelict crab pots not only enhances habitat, but also reduces navigational hazards, human health issues, and fishery impacts. We are thrilled to help provide outreach and educational campaigns to the local community, which will prevent additional lost pots and promote a deeper understanding of the bay’s habitat and wildlife.”

 

The Fishing for Energy partnership provided funds for the transportation and disposal of the gear found in Barnegat Bay through Covanta’s Energy-from-Waste facility in Union County, New Jersey. At the Covanta site, any metal found on the debris will be recycled and the remainder of the traps converted into clean, renewable energy that will power area homes and businesses. The recycled materials will be processed and converted into enough energy to power 2,200 homes for a month!

From left to right: CWF's Stephanie Egger, Covanta's Meg Morris, NFWF's Courtney McGeachy, and Covanta's Kristin Blake.

From left to right: CWF’s Stephanie Egger, Covanta’s Meg Morris, NFWF’s Courtney McGeachy, and Covanta’s Kristin Blake.

 

Fishing for Energy is a nationwide partnership between the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation; the NOAA Marine Debris Program; Covanta, a New Jersey-headquartered sustainable waste and energy solutions company; and Schnitzer Steel Industries, one of the largest metal recycling companies in the United States. The partnership offers conveniently located collection bins for disposal of old fishing gear, making it easy for fishing communities – even small coastal communities like Waretown and Mantoloking – to deal with the issue of derelict gear. As a result, the partnership reduces the amount of gear that ends up in U.S. coastal waters and recycles and converts the remaining gear and debris into clean, renewable energy at Covanta’s Energy-from-Waste facilities.

 

Making Headlines: News Coverage from the Press Event:

 

Learn More:

 

Lindsay McNamara is the Communications Manager for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

 

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