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VIMS survey reveals crabbers’ preferences for managing derelict gear

A survey of Virginia crabbers reveals their perceptions of derelict crab pots and the activities most preferred to help mitigate the issues posed by these “ghost pots” in the Chesapeake Bay.

The survey was conducted by a team of researchers at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, in close collaboration with Virginia watermen. They published an analysis of the survey results in the October 2021 issue of “Marine Policy” and have also shared the results with the commercial crabbing community in Virginia.

Derelict crab pots are those that have been lost, abandoned or otherwise discarded in the water. An estimated 12-20 percent of licensed pots become derelict each year in the Chesapeake Bay, with around 145,000 derelict pots are present in the bay at any given time.

Studies show that each derelict pot may trap and kill 16-26 blue crabs annually, and that derelict pots can reduce blue crab harvests by as much as 30 percent by competing with actively fished gear. Crabbers also...

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