Marine debris is a pervasive problem and unfortunately, our golden state on the west coast is not immune. However, the NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP) is supporting some innovative projects that are actively addressing this problem. To give you a cool example, California is the site of a nifty marine debris removal project that started last summer.
Led by the SeaDoc Society at the University of California, Davis and working with area fishermen, this project in Northern and Central California is working to fight a big debris problem: derelict crab traps. Derelict traps can cause all kinds of problems for marine life, recreational boaters, and for fishermen. Apart from losing expensive traps, the fishery suffers as derelict traps continue to capture crabs that could otherwise be caught by an active fisherman (a concept known as ghost fishing). To address this problem, commercial fishermen are going out during the closed crabbing season to recover lost pots.
These fishermen are collecting over 750 derelict crab pots, effectively restoring over 8,000 square feet of seafloor habitat, and then doing something pretty cool with them: selling them back. The fishermen sell the pots they recover back to the Humboldt Fishermen’s Marketing Association (HFMA), who then sells them to their original owner at a fleet-agreed price per trap. The proceeds are what fund the project the following year.