A program to remove derelict crab pots from the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries, much reduced from years past, is in effect this winter.
Kirk Havens, principal investigator for the Center for Coastal Resources Management at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Gloucester Point, said that funds were only received to support four watermen to 50 work days this winter. The previous program under separate sponsorship, with dozens of watermen temporarily employed looking for the ghost pots, has ended.
The new program includes pot retrieval in identified hot spots, Havens said, with one of the areas being the York River. The current grant is from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
The program had been done on the larger scale for several years in this region, Havens said, with good results. Although the present program is smaller, he expects the watermen will still retrieve many crab pots cut from their buoys and that this will provide some limited employment during this time of year.
On a related matter, Havens and his research team have been conducting research on fully biodegradable panels on crab pots to reduce derelict pot threat to marine fauna. The VIMS team, working with commercial watermen, has deployed crab pots with these panels alongside standard pots in Chesapeake Bay to assess potential effects of the experimental pot on the blue crab catch.
There has been no evidence that the biodegradable panels adversely affected catch, said the report. Working with Havens are Donna Marie Bilkovic, D.M. Stanhope and K.T. Angstadt.