If you’re on the bay, you have a role to play! 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. Ghost pots can also pose a navigation hazard for boaters.
So far, eight local commercial crabbing companies have joined us in our mission to tackle ghost pots. We provide workshops on how to use affordable, recreational-grade side scan sonar to reacquire and sustainably retrieve crab pots. This not only works for ghost pots already in our waterways, but also for those that are lost the very same day. These pots can be retrieved, re-rigged, and set out again, saving both time and money!
The process is simple: See, Snag, Recover, Repeat!
If you're interested in learning more about past recovery efforts and potential future opportunities to get involved, reach out to us! We'd be happy to talk with you!
“The recovery program has benefited myself and the environment for the years I participated in it. I was able to recover 75 plus or minus pots from the area I fish in. Reeds bay is where I primarily fish and recovering these pots eliminates me from running them over and fouling my engine. In addition recovering these pots eliminates them from catching species from the bay and potentially killing them, including my target species of blue crabs.
The hummingbird machine is an asset, quality GPS and sounder. By learning how to use the side scan imaging the fishermen can look and identify lost pots and recover them.”
"I have been a commercial crabber for 49 years. Up until about 8 years ago, I would average a loss of about 45 pots per year cut off by boaters.
That all changed when I got involved with Stockton University and the grant they received from NOAA to clean up the bottom of Great Bay by the removal of "ghost" crab pots. They introduced me to side imaging sonar and instructed us on how to use it.
Since then, I average a loss of about 7 pots per year. I recover most that are cut off the same day, and pout them right back to work catching crabs. At a cost of about $50 per pot fully rigged, it has made a huge difference. I'm recovering my pots and helping to keep the bay bottom less cluttered. This program has been a real winner all around!"