Wednesday, April 9, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Center for Coastal Studies contact:
Laura Ludwig, Project Manager
Latest Fishing Gear Recovery A Success In Provincetown
In March 2014, the Center for Coastal Studies (CCS) continued its effort to assess and recover derelict, lost or abandoned fishing gear from the seabed along the outer Cape, thanks to a grant from the Fishing for Energy program.
Approximately ten tons of fishing gear and other sundries were removed from the ocean floor during the second year of the Center’s “Outer Cape Derelict Gear Assessment and Retrieval Program.”
Four commercial lobster vessels from Provincetown participated in the effort: F/V ALL IN, F/V MISS LILLY, F/V LITTLE SAMMY III, and F/V MORGAN GAYLE.
Side-scan sonar was used to identify areas of gear presence. The CCS Marine Geology Department typically uses its own research vessel for mapping projects, but prefers to work with a fishing vessel for gear-related surveys due to the fisherman’s local knowledge. The MORGAN GAYLE provided the survey platform for the first side-scan sonar survey, running tracklines in one area where derelict gear was suspected; imagery generated from that survey provided targets for the first day of grappling effort. Two additional sonar surveys were conducted off of LITTLE SAMMY III, greatly improving the targeted removal effort.
In addition to lost gear, the sonar survey also revealed a number of buoyed yet inactive traps, whose locations were reported to the Office of Law Enforcement to process according to state protocol.
The grappling phase of the project took place over 7 days. Grappled gear included over 320 wire lobster traps, trap parts, nets, buoys, rope, gillnet, monofilament, wire tackle, finfish tackle, dragger cable, and the occasional odd catch – a toilet, a rusted steel pole, part of a gallows frame, a stuffed doll, glass bottles, a tire, battery, and two anchors.
One hundred and forty-two of the recovered traps were intact and deemed “fishable”. Most carried ID tags and were retrieved by their owners after being contacted by the Project Manager. Two dozen were unclaimed or unidentified, and, as per state protocol, were transported to a Law Enforcement holding facility where they will ultimately be auctioned off.
In addition to the usable traps, over five tons (10,320 pounds) of waste fishing gear was loaded into a 30-yard Dumpster and crushed by the DPW’s excavator for transport to a Fishing for Energy partner facility in New Bedford. The metals will be recycled and the remaining gear will be combusted at a Covanta energy-from-waste plant.
During the course of recovering the gear, information about lobsters and other animals in the traps, condition of the gear, and trap identification is recorded in a logbook. All data will be entered into a regional database to help inform managers, lobstermen and other interested parties about the presence and impacts of lost fishing gear.
Cleaning up the ocean is a team effort – in addition to collaboration with the commercial lobster fleet, CCS gear recovery and disposal efforts were greatly assisted by the Provincetown Harbormaster’s Office and Department of Public Works.
Fishing for Energy is a partnership of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Covanta, Schnitzer Steel Industries, Inc. and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), working to reduce the amount of marine debris in and around coastal waterways. Local partners are Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies, the Provincetown Public Pier Corporation and the Office of the Harbormaster. Fishing for Energy bins are located at the Provincetown and Wellfleet transfer stations, providing a no-cost solution for fishermen to dispose of old, derelict or unusable fishing gear.