DNR Relaunches Ghost Pot Retrieval Program

Application deadline to work for the program is February 24

ANNAPOLIS (February 13, 2012)—The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Oyster Recovery Partnership are gearing up to remove thousands of abandoned crab pots and pieces of debris from the Chesapeake Bay. Maryland’s ghost pot retrieval program is slated to begin mid-March and will help clean up the Bay, save underwater species and increase jobs for watermen.

“This is a valuable arrangement that is not only helping to restore our Bay, but providing more jobs for our watermen,” said DNR Secretary John Griffin. “We also thank Senator Barbara Mikulski and the Congressional Delegation for dedicating funding to establish conservation programs such as this, which provide Marylanders with employment opportunities and help ensure a sustainable future for our State.”

Maryland Geological Survey and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Chesapeake Bay Office conducted side-scan sonar surveys several years ago and estimated that there were thousands of ghost pots at the bottom of the Bay and its tributaries. Crab pots become lost when buoy lines are cut by powerboat propellers or during storms when the lines may chafe through.

“The problem with abandoned pots is that they may continue to catch and kill crabs and finfish,” said DNR Fisheries Director, Tom O’Connell. “Additionally, captured fish and crabs may become bait for other predators that could enter and become trapped in the pots and thereby continue the cycle.”

Target areas for the 2012 effort include the North East River, Fairlee Creek, West River, Rhode River, South River, Severn River, Magothy River, Patapsco River, Patuxent River, Upper Tangier sound, Lower Hooper Island and the Big and Little Annemessex Rivers at Smith Island.

Maryland’s ghost pot retrieval program was launched in 2010 as part of a federally-funded crab disaster recovery grant secured by Senator Barbara Mikulski and championed by Governor O’Malley. The program guards against future crab fishery failures and provides economic aid to watermen.

In 2010, about 360 watermen removed more than 11,800 pieces of debris from Bay waters. With one million dollars available, the 2012 program will expand on the 2010 effort, employing more watermen and targeting additional areas. The 2012 project is largely in support of active watermen who were directly impacted by the extraordinarily wet weather events of 2011.

Maryland waterman interested in working for the program can find an application at dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries/news/story.asp?story_id=219&title=2012-Derelict-Gear-Retrieval-Project. Applications must be received by February 24, 2012.

Source: Maryland Department of Natural Resources

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