The obster boat Miss Lilly drags the bottom for derelict gear off P-town.

The obster boat Miss Lilly drags the bottom for derelict gear off P-town. Photos/Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies.

In early March 2014, the Center for Coastal Studies (CCS) continued its effort to assess and recover derelict, lost or abandoned fishing gear from the seabed off Cape Cod. The project is funded by a grant from the Fishing for Energy program. Approximately 10 tons of fishing gear and other sundries were recovered during the second year of the Center’s “Outer Cape Derelict Gear Assessment and Retrieval Program.”

Four commercial lobster boats from Provincetown participated in the effort. The crews used side-scan sonar to identify areas of gear presence.

More than 300 wire lobster traps were recovered during the operation.

More than 300 wire lobster traps were recovered during the operation.

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 on 7 days in early March. 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, including a toilet, a rusted steel pole, part of a gallows frame, a stuffed doll, glass bottles, a tire, a battery and 2 anchors.

A load of dereclict lobster traps on deck.

A load of dereclict lobster traps on deck.

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 5 tons (10,320 pounds) of waste fishing gear was loaded into a 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.

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