Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Barnegat Bay’

Fishing For A Cleaner Barnegat Bay

Saturday, December 8th, 2018

Ghost pots in Barnegat Bay

By: Emily Heiser; Wildlife Biologist

Derelict fishing gear continues to plague the depths of Barnegat Bay.  Often lost through storm events or due to boat traffic, lost or abandoned crab pots (ghost pots) become an unintentional deathtrap for a variety of marine species and reduce otherwise harvestable resources.  CWF and their partners at MATES, Stockton, and ALS have been working to recover lost pots in Barnegat Bay since 2015.

Over the course of the last three field seasons, 1,300 crab pots have been recovered and their bycatch has been extensively documented.  Notably, CWF and MATES have been focusing on how to further help northern diamondback terrapins who often find themselves caught in ghost pots.  In 2016, one pot contained the remains of 17 terrapins.

As we enter the fourth field season of pot collections, the project hopes to not only recover as may pots as possible, but also to glean further information on how the pots move in a variety of substrates and under a variety conditions.  To bring further awareness to the issue, CWF teamed up with the awesome folks at Citizen Racecar to produce a short informational film about ghost fishing and its effects on Barnegat Bay.  Visit our Facebook page to view the video: https://www.facebook.com/wildlifenj/

This project is funded primarily by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, with additional support by the New Jersey Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Covanta and Schnitzer Steel also support the project by recycling the metal in the retrieved crab pots.

 

Wakefern Food Corp. interns join Species on the Edge Art & Essay Contest Winners at Sedge Island

Friday, August 31st, 2018

By Summer 2018 Wakefern Food Corp. Interns: Nadia Saponara, Sustainability & Niki Tripathi, Corporate Communications

Wakefern Food Corp. interns Niki Tripathi and Nadia Saponara

This summer, we happily traded in our summer intern cubicles, laptops and professional attire for kayaks, clam rakes and bathing suits for a trip to Barnegat Bay. We headed to Sedge Island, off of Island Beach State Park, and kicked off the day with a boat ride to the island. There, we joined fifth grade “Species on the Edge” art and essay contest winners, their parents, and state wildlife biologists with their seasoned interns.

How did we land this day-long getaway? Well, for many years, Wakefern Food Corp. (ShopRite, The Fresh Grocer, Price Rite, and Dearborn Market) has worked closely with CWF. Our company supports the “Species on the Edge” calendar contest and the bald eagle preservation program. (To find out more, visit our website). (more…)

Helping oysters recover in Barnegat Bay through our crab pot recycling program

Wednesday, August 1st, 2018

by Emily Heiser

Last week, Conserve Wildlife joined the American Littoral Society at their annual Parade of Boats event in conjunction with the Operation Oyster program.

Conserve Wildlife, through funding from NOAA’s Marine Debris Program, has spent the last several years in a related effort to clean up Barnegat Bay.  Removing derelict crab traps or ghost pots from the bay has been an ongoing initiative.  Ghost pots are lost in a variety of ways including improper rigging to buoys and buoy lines cut by passing boat traffic.

The issue spans not only the commercial crabbing industry, but the recreational industry as well.  The longer the pots sit on the bottom of the bay the more likely they are to serve as a deathtrap for a variety of marine species.  The more marine life that becomes trapped the more the pots continue to attract other marine life.  This is of particular concern for Northern Diamondback Terrapins that frequently investigate these pots looking for a quick meal only to be trapped and quickly drown. (more…)

2018 Osprey Outlook

Monday, July 30th, 2018
Insight Into Important (Bio)Indicators: Ospreys

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

CWF Osprey Banding Apprentice Northside Jim holds a young osprey, 13/K, after banding.

Mid-summer marks the nestling period of nesting ospreys, a coastal raptor, whose diet consists mainly of fish. As a state that’s heavily influenced by its location along the Atlantic Ocean, they play a critical role in our coastal ecosystem. Ospreys are important bioindicators of the health of our coastal waters, through the lens of their prey, where pollutants are biomagnified through the food chain. As we consume many of the same fish, they show the effects of these pollutants long before humans, so the health of their population has implications for our coastal waters and us! (more…)

CWF Releases New Video About Abandoned Crab Pots in Barnegat Bay

Saturday, June 30th, 2018

by Erin Conversano

Crabbing has been an annual tradition of residents and visitors to the Barnegat Bay region. Yet when those crab pots are abandoned or adrift, they can become death traps for local wildlife, including at-risk species like diamondback terrapin.

Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s new video “Fishing for a Cleaner Barnegat Bay” details this complex ecological challenge. Produced by Citizen Racecar, the video is now available to the public here.

Due to a passing boat, a storm, or simply forgetfulness, abandoned “ghost” crab pots litter Barnegat Bay, continuing to catch crabs and fish. Worst of all is that when animals get stuck in a crab pot, they attract more animals, which in turn also are trapped. Each animal caught acts as bait for new animals to come along.

Some fish species that get caught are blackfish and sea bass. And since the crab pots are just lying at the bottom of the Bay, they do not get emptied out. As a result, any fish that get caught in the crab pots can’t escape and end up starving to death.

Some bycatch findings in retrieved crab pots

Fish are not the only victims of the crab pot death traps – the famous diamondback terrapin, a turtle species that is currently experiencing an alarming population decline rate, also is a common victim of being trapped by abandoned crab pots. One crab trap has even been found to contain 17 dead terrapins.

Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem, as described in the video. Conserve Wildlife Foundation, supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s Marine Debris Removal Program, is tackling the problem directly by finding and removing abandoned crab pots from the water. GPS grid and SONAR imagery from Stockton State University allows recovery teams to find exactly where the crab pots are located. Low-cost SONAR devices can even be used by well-trained fishermen to find their own crab pots merely days after losing them.

Over 1,300 abandoned crab traps were picked up by the program in Barnegat Bay over the past two winters. Ultimately, the metal used in the crab traps is either recycled or used to create energy by corporate partners Covanta and Schnitzer Steel.

“This is a true environmental success story because it addresses a serious ecological problem by creating ecological and economic benefits for the good of the greater Barnegat Bay community,” says CWF Executive Director David Wheeler. “Thanks to local fishermen and volunteer students, removing these death traps has prevented countless at-risk diamondback terrapins and other species from drowning unnecessarily. It also has strengthened public safety by removing navigational hazards from the bay.”

In addition to NOAA’s support for the project, the video was made possible by funding from the New Jersey Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership. Other project partners and supporters include the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science – Ocean County Vocational Technical School, Stockton University, Monmouth University, American Littoral Society, Covanta, and ReClam the Bay.