Fishing Gear Recovery Project Commences in Cape Cod Bay

April 10, 2017

The Center for Coastal Studies (CCS) has begun its “Fishing for Derelict Gear in Cape Cod Bay,” a project funded by the NOAA Marine Debris Program to identity, remove, document, and properly dispose of lost, abandoned or derelict fishing gear.

Capt. Mike Rego and Bob Mallory grapple for gear aboard the F/V Lilly off Long Point, Provincetown.

Side-scan sonar surveys have been conducted off of Provincetown, Truro, Sesuit and Sandwich, with additional surveys planned for the Chatham area. The surveys identify areas where lost gear exists and assists with documentation and recovery.

Commercial fishing vessels from each area will be enlisted to deliver divers to certain locations so they can document the lost gear as it rests on the ocean floor, and to recover the gear by towing a small grappling hook in targeted locations. Once returned to shore, the derelict gear will be sorted for recycling, disposal, or return to rightful owners. The first recovery work took place in Provincetown and Sesuit on April 9th.

The Center works closely with the harbormasters in each port to organize the on-site activities. As a partner in the program, Nauset Disposal has provided containers in each location for disposal and recycling.

Nauset Disposal provided containers for disposal and recycling of recovered gear.

“Nauset Disposal considers its commitment to the Cape Cod community – and the environment – top priorities,” said Shawn DeLude, owner of the company. “This partnership with the Center for Coastal Studies is an exciting step for us. It’s a natural fit to work with an organization so dedicated to protecting our environment and we are looking forward to a long term partnership promoting coastal conservation, protection and restoration.”

This project will yield information about the presence and prevalance of lost fishing gear, and will provide data on by-catch, gear functionality, and habitat impacts. Previous removal efforts conducted by CCS in Cape Cod Bay recovered over 16 tons of lobster, gillnet, dragger, trawl and recreational fishing gear, including 660 lobster traps, of which over half were returned to the owners.