Crab pot removal by one of the ARRA-employed fishing vessels. (Credit: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife).
After two years and 10,000 work-hours, a unique Oregon partnership is ending its run after collecting tons of debris from the ocean in the Pacific Northwest.
The Oregon Fishing Industry Partnership to Restore Marine Habitat, initially funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and led by NOAA, the State of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission, the fishing community, and the Oregon State Police, held a special event on August 20 to celebrate successful culmination of the project.
NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco, along with other NOAA officials, joined representatives from the Oregon fishing industry and state representatives to celebrate the successful completion of the project.
The project, which began in 2009, presented unique opportunities to positively impact the state, both economically and ecologically, contributing to a healthier ocean and a sustainable Dungeness crab fishery. The project provided job opportunities during the crab fisheries off season to remove derelict, or "ghost," gear and conducted a monitoring effort, including side scan sonar surveys, to investigate the baseline and loss rate of derelict pots.
Over 145 metric tons of debris (including 3,000 derelict pots) were removed, and none of the derelict fishing gear was landfilled. More than 95 percent of the derelict pots were returned to owners for re-use and the rest recycled for metal. All of the lines and nets retrieved were used for energy at a power plant. The project focused on providing jobs and other economic benefits to coastal communities. The fishermen were employed by ARRA funds.
Retrieved derelict pots waiting to be claimed by owners. (Credit: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife).
This project has supported approximately 10,000 hours of work for commercial fishermen, state employees, and other project partners in Oregon coastal communities, putting people to work during the crab fishery's off-season to remove derelict gear and monitor how and where the crab pots are lost and at what rate.
The success of this project has inspired a new industry-led partnership to continue the derelict crab pot removal effort (as well as other marine debris) in Oregon's coastal fishing waters.
The Oregon Fishing Industry Partnership to Restore Marine Habitat is an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 funded project. NOAA Marine Debris Program is providing some matching funds to the current industry-led partnership. The NOAA Marine Debris Program works to investigate and solve the problems that stem from marine debris through research, prevention, and reduction activities, in order to protect and conserve our nation's marine environment and ensure navigation safety.