crabbing

A Successful Search for Derelict Pots

Written by Molly Bogeberg, Marine Projects Manager
Photographs by Flickr Creative Commons

With funding from NOAA and in partnership with the Quinault Indian Nation and Natural Resource Consultants, we have removed 522 pots, lines, and buoys from the Washington Coast in the Quinault Indian Nation Special Management Area from 2014-2015. We are continuing to search for and remove pots through October and will possibly continue removing pots into November. The Quinault fishermen and NRC report that they are finding fewer and fewer pots with aerial surveys. This is good news because that means we are being successful and thorough with our work. 

Through our partnership, the Quinault have also been developing a tribal fisheries community based derelict pot reporting and recovery program to help identify locations where there are derelict pots. The Quinault Ocean Committee is also considering an incentive based pot recovery system which will allow fishers to go out after the crab fishery is closed for the season and recover any gear they can find to use in their own fishery. The hope is that these two strategies will prevent further accumulation of derelict pots within the Quinault Indian Nation waters.

Learn how we protect our oceans.

Searching for Crab Pots

Abandoned fishing gear never stops fishing.

Written and Photographed by Molly Bogeberg, Hershman Marine Policy Fellow and Kara Cardinal, Marine Projects Manager

Kara Cardinal and I woke up early to walk the docks in Westport and catch Quinault Indian Nation fisherman (Tony) and Natural Resource Consultants (NRC) staff (Jeff Cox) before they left Westport in search of lost and abandoned crab pots to pluck from the seafloor. The Nature Conservancy has partnered with the Quinault, NRC, and NOAA to use a specially designed line cutter and hydraulic pump to remove crab pots that have been buried deep in the sand or caught in-between rocks. 

Jeff demonstrated how the specially designed crab pot line cutters work. It was amazing to see how the white tubing pumps water into the sandy seafloor to help remove buried crab pots. These derelict crab pots are a menace because they can continue to catch crab, impede other fishing practices, and entangle marine mammals. The hope is that by removing these lost pots, the waters close to Westport and the Quinault Nation will be safer for boaters and marine organisms alike.

Learn more about our marine work here.