Maryland watermen have pulled nearly 1,500 abandoned crab pots from the West, Patuxent and Patapsco Rivers as a part of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Ghost Crab Pot Retrieval program. The Program, which is a partnership between DNR, the Oyster Recovery Partnership, Versar inc. and more than 360 watermen started on February 22, and is a part of a plan to help mitigate economic losses from the declining blue crab fishery, while also helping to restore the Chesapeake Bay.
Estimates based on side-scan sonar surveys conducted by the Maryland Geological Survey, and the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office indicate that there are thousands of ghost pots on the bottom of Maryland’s portion of the Chesapeake Bay and tributaries. The problem with these abandoned pots is that they may still be catching and killing crabs and finfish. Additionally, captured fish and crabs essentially become bait for other predators that will enter and also become trapped. Some studies indicate that the average crab pot will last about two years in saltwater.
Approximately 450 watermen have been offered contracts for up to $400 per day plus an additional $150 for a helper to recover and dispose of ghost pots from selected sights. The initial working areas will be the Patuxent, West and Rhode Rivers where concentrations of ghost pots were found.
source: MD DNR press release