The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is reminding recreational crab pot owners to install Bycatch Reduction Devices (BRD) in their crab pots.
Crab pots set by waterfront landowners can accidently trap and drown diamondback terrapins unless equipped with a Bycatch Reduction Device (BRD). A BRD is a gate that allows crabs to enter the pot, but keeps the larger-shelled terrapins out. Non-commercial crab pot owners are required by law to have BRDs installed in each funnel entrance and have pots clearly marked with their name and address.
Waterfront landowners in Maryland are allowed to operate up to two crab pots per property. Unlike commercial watermen who set them only in the deeper waters of the open Chesapeake Bay, recreational crab pots may legally be set in tributaries where terrapins live.
Recreational crabbers can purchase BRDs where crab pots are sold and some retailers sell pots that already have the device installed. Those who are unable to locate BRDs can contact the National Aquarium Conservation Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Installing a BRD in a crab pot is easy to do. Instructions are available at dnr.maryland.gov/wildlife/pdfs/2010terrapinbrochure.pdf. A video about BRDS and terrapins can also be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6Akh9fNdFI.
According to the agency, failure to comply with the law can result in the seizure of pots and a fine.
Diamondback terrapins are not endangered but populations have declined, possibly due to poor water quality and loss of habitat.
source: MD DNR