WeCrabNJ is the most recent development in a multi-year effort to not only remove derelict crab pots from our waterways, but also educate commercial crabbers, recreational crabbers/boaters, teachers, and the community about the economical and ecological impacts. Learn more about ghost pots below!
This project is funded in part by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program grant to Stockton University titled "Next-generation marine debris removal: pairing emerging leaders and technology for restoration success" (Grant # NA18NOS9990042).
Commercial and recreational crabbers rely heavily on NJ estuaries to either make a living or catch some dinner using “Chesapeake-style” commercial crab traps. Boat traffic, incorrectly set gear, vandalism, shifting tides, and storms can unfortunately result in lost or damaged gear. These lost pots are called “Ghost Pots” and they continue to fish, accumulating blue crabs and other species that become trapped in the ghost pots. This has an impact on our estuaries and the enjoyment of the estuaries in various ways.
Fish and crustaceans are attracted to ghost pots by “rebaiting” (when entrapped organisms die and in turn attract new visitors). Once in a pot, if release panels are not present or working, bycatch such as fish and crabs cannot escape. Whether dead or alive, this on-going process essentially removes organisms from the population available for harvest. These effects can be felt by commercial and recreational watermen alike. Other species such as terrapins or waterfowl can also become entangled in lost gear.
Stockton University and the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve have joined forces to identify, map, and remove ghost pots with the help of local watermen while increasing awareness among boaters, shore visitors, and recreational and commercial crabbers. If you’re on the water, you have an important role in helping to reduce the occurrence of ghost pots.