Oregon Sea Grant’s early involvement with a pilot project to retrieve lost crab pots helped lay the groundwork for a $699,000 NOAA grant that will hire commercial fishermen to clean up 180 metric tons of abandoned gear off the Oregon coast.
The 2009 Gear Retrieval Project, announced last week by NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco during a visit to Newport, will employ fishermen during the off-season. Working with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the fishermen will locate and remove discarded crab pots, fishing nets and other marine debris that can trap and kill marine mammals and fish and endanger fishing activities.
In 2006, Sea Grant collaborated with commerical fishing groups and the Oregon Crab Commission to test whether local fishermen could effectively locate and retrieve lost crab pots. In their first two test runs, fishermen found and hauled in nearly 60 crab pots and more than 600 feet of abandoned trawl cable.
The new gear retrieval project is among $7 million in coastal habitat restoration projects NOAA is funding in Oregon under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.