NOAA Report: Effects of Derelict Fishing Gear in the Chesapeake Bay

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ghost crab pot
credit: VIMS

A recent assessment funded by NOAA Marine Debris Program of the ecological and economic impacts of derelict fishing gear in the Chesapeake Bay estimated that abandoned crab pots catch more than 6 million blue crabs annually, killing more than half of them.

Derelict Fishing Gear Study Highlights:

The study estimates that some 145,000 derelict crab pots exist in the Chesapeake Bay, with 12-20% of actively-fished pots becoming lost each year.

The study estimates that derelict pots in the Chesapeake Bay kill over 3.3 million blue crabs, 3.5 million white perch, and 3.6 million Atlantic croaker annually.

Derelict pots can catch crabs that could otherwise be caught by active pots, reducing commercial harvests.

Through statistical modeling, the study estimates that targeted derelict crab pot removal programs increase the number of crabs caught by actively-fished pots, resulting in significant economic benefits for the fishery.

The model estimated that derelict pot removals increased Bay-wide crab harvests by over 38 million pounds over a six-year period, amounting to $33.5 million in added revenue.

The study found that pot removal efforts are most effective when they focus on areas with intensive crab fishing activity.

The Ecological and Economic Effects of Derelict Fishing Gear in the Chesapeake Bay 2015/2016 Final Assessment Report can be found at:

source: NOAA Marine Debris Program

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