Removing Abandoned Fishing Gear for a Safer Barnegat Bay
Conserve Wildlife Foundation is leading the charge to remove dangerous, abandoned fishing gear throughout the watershed.
Through a series of public and private partnerships, and with the help of the local fishing community, Conserve Wildlife Foundation (CWF) is spearheading a project to inventory and remove more than 1,000 abandoned crab pots in Barnegat Bay. These derelict pots, lost from storms or cut lines, can have devastating impacts on the bay ecosystem and local economy.
A phenomenon referred to as “ghost fishing,” these traps will often continue to catch and kill marine life when abandoned, like the Northern diamondback terrapin and otherwise harvestable crabs. These lost harvests translate to economic losses for fishermen and the local community.
In addition, the pots disrupt navigation and damage sensitive ecosystems. The combined consequences of these abandoned pots reduce the integrity of the Barnegat Bay ecosystem and diminish its functionality for the community.
Funded by NOAA's Community-based Marine Debris Removal Grant, and in conjunction with our partners at the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science, Monmouth University, Stockton University, ReClam the Bay, and volunteers from the local fishing community, we will work hard to locate, inventory and remove these derelict pots from the Bay. Salvageable pots are returned to owners or made available to fishermen.
Unsalvageable pots will be disposed of by the Fishing for Energy program, which converts abandoned fishing gear into useable energy with the aid of our partners, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Covanta. In addition to removal of the pots, this project and our partners are working to better understand the impacts of abandoned pots and their distribution, gather information on the percentage of pots lost annually and also develop a long-term reporting system for lost pots and other fishing gear.
Conserve Wildlife Foundation is also working on an outreach campaign to raise awareness on the impacts of derelict crab pots and marine debris with additional funding from the New Jersey Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership. CWF will coordinate educational and outreach efforts with partners on the WeCrab project led by the Jacques Cousteau National Research Reserve and Stockton University.
- NOAA Marine Debris Program recap of the project launch
- NOAA Marine Debris Program’s summary of the project
CWF and NOAA Marine Debris Program Removal Project - 615.5KB
Making Headlines: News Coverage from the Project Launch
- ABC 6 Action News
- News 12 New Jersey
- The SandPaper
- NJTV News
- NJ.com photos and full story
- Geos News
- NJ Spotlight
- Waste Management World
- The Japan Times
- Arkansas Online
- The Daily Progress
- Associated Press: The Big Story
Species on the Edge: Marine Debris Edition
New in 2016! Decal Contest for New Jersey 5-8th Grade Students
Since 2003, over 10,000 children from across New Jersey have entered Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s Species on the Edge educational contests. The contests are a great way to engage and excite students into learning about New Jersey’s over 80 endangered and threatened wildlife species. Students will draw a design that shows how the abandoned crab pot removal project will help Barnegat Bay and marine wildlife like the diamondback terrapin.
- Open to all New Jersey fifth-eighth graders in public, private, or home schools.
- The contest opens on Friday, March 4 and closes on Friday, May 20, 2016.
- Decal designs will be judged by marine scientists. Judging takes place in June.
- The winner will be notified by the end of June.
The winning design will be printed on 2,500 stickers to use as the official “logo” of the project. The winning student will receive two free passes to Jenkinson’s Aquarium and spend a day in the field with one of CWF’s wildlife biologists.
All entries are due by Friday, May 20, 2016
Species on the Edge: Marine Debris Edition Overview - 181.4KB
Species on the Edge: Marine Debris Edition Decal Template - 98.3KB
Species on the Edge: Marine Debris Edition Certificate - 194.2KB
Marine Debris Resources for Educators
Understanding Marine Debris - 3.2MB
Marine Debris - Composition and Abundance - 190.3KB
Protect our Ocean Activity Book - 1.6MB
For more information, contact
Emily Heiser, Wildlife Biologist: Email
Help Conserve Terrapins!
Help us identify road kill "hot spots" by submitting your sighting of a northern diamondback terrapin. Your sightings will help us protect terrapins and these areas in the coastal zone of New Jersey.
Species Field Guide
See the Terrapin's full entry in our online field guide.