NC Coastal Federation collects crab pots during statewide cleanup

NC Coastal Federation collects derelict crab pots in Ward's Creek on Jan. 19, 2018. (Photo: Jessica Gray/NC Coastal Federation)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The North Carolina Coastal Federation began their fifth year of the Lost Fishing Gear Recovery Project this week. More than 70 commercial watermen along the entire coast have been traveling the sounds to collect lost crab pots.

The federation is partnering with North Carolina Marine Patrol for this project, which is funded by $100,000 from the General Assembly.

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As of January 2017, this project has expanded statewide to all three Marine Patrol districts thanks to ongoing funding from the General Assembly. During the 2017 project, a total 4,304 pots were removed by 72 watermen along the coast. Learn more about the 2017 project from this video by Chris Hannant of Swell Productions.

This year, the federation hired 76 watermen, which includes captains and mates, to assist with the on-water cleanup. Commercial watermen are able to predict where lost pots may end up based on shifting currents and tides, and this project also creates jobs for them during a slower time of the year due to colder waters and the multi-week crabbing closure.

“Thank you to the North Carolina Coastal Federation and our representatives in the General Assembly for including watermen in this project,” said KP Scott, a commercial waterman from Hatteras. “Crab pots are expensive and nobody ever wants to lose any, but hurricanes and nor’easters claim quite a few. This cleanup is a big job and we are very grateful to be included.”

Once the pots are collected, they are recycled to the extent possible.