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Author Topic: Check out what is happening in Virginia  (Read 1240 times)
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rj
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« on: January 23, 2018, 06:25:53 PM »

if this goes through in VA., I suspect Maryland will be next on theeir list

 SENATE BILL NO. 552
Offered January 10, 2018
Prefiled January 9, 2018
A BILL to amend the Code of Virginia by adding in Article 1 of Chapter 7 of Title 28.2 a section numbered 28.2-701.1, relating to crab pots and peeler pots; marine-biodegradable escape panels; penalty.
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Patron-- Mason
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Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources
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Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. That the Code of Virginia is amended by adding in Article 1 of Chapter 7 of Title 28.2 a section numbered 28.2-701.1 as follows:

§ 28.2-701.1. Crab pots and peeler pots; biodegradability requirements.

A. For the purposes of this section, "marine-biodegradable escape panel" means an escape panel that:

1. Does not contain any type or combination of synthetic plastics known to bioaccumulate in marine organisms;

2. Is at least 80 percent composed by weight of materials that are (i) biopolymers demonstrated to biodegrade in a marine environment according to the standard ASTM D6691 tests, (ii) certified as biodegradable marine material by an organization accredited to inspect and certify biodegradable materials, or (iii) untreated cellulose-based natural products without additives that are one-eighth of an inch or less in width and diameter; and

3. Will degrade sufficiently within eight months of becoming derelict in the waters of the Commonwealth, such that any animal that can enter the derelict crab or peeler pot can also exit the crab or peeler pot.

B. Beginning January 1, 2019, any crab pot sold in the Commonwealth and any peeler pot regulated by the Commission or used or sold in the Commonwealth shall be equipped with at least two marine biodegradable escape panels.

C. Beginning July 1, 2020, any crab pot regulated by the Commission or used or sold in the Commonwealth shall be equipped with at least two marine-biodegradable escape panels.

D. Each marine-biodegradable escape panel shall be located on a different sidewall of the upper chamber of a crab pot or peeler pot, as applicable, and obstruct an opening that is a minimum width of five and one-half inches and a minimum height of three and one-half inches.

E. Any person who violates any provision of this section is guilty of the penalty provided by § 28.2-701.
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evinrude 130
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« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2018, 07:57:25 PM »

It's something to be happy about with regards to future ghost pots. Someone is always thinking and coming up with ideas.
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« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2018, 05:07:56 PM »

Id like to see how they hold up to a pressure washer.
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« Reply #3 on: January 24, 2018, 07:25:06 PM »

waste of time and money.  Crabs will stop going in the pot way before the panel falls out.  They'll find their way out of the pot before they die waiting for a panel to rot.
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« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2018, 08:18:43 PM »

Interesting article on ghost pots. Check out what they estimate for crabs being trapped in pots. Estimated 3.3 million, that's a lot of crabs.
Each year, the report estimated that those pots kill about 3.3 million crabs, 3.5 million white perch, 3.6 million Atlantic croaker, and smaller numbers of other species, including ducks, diamondback terrapins and striped bass.


Derelict Crab Pots Killing 3.3 million Crabs Annually in the Bay
December 31, 2016 by Bay Journal
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When Virginia closed its winter dredge fishery in 2008, waterman Clay Justis turned his attention from catching crabs that season to collecting the gear that captures them.

He was one of several watermen hired under a program that taught them to use sonar to find and remove lost and abandoned fishing gear, primarily crab pots, littering the bottom of the Bay.

“As a waterman, I knew there was stuff on the bottom, but when I turned the machine on, I was like, ‘Wow!’” said Justis, who fishes out of Accomack on the Eastern Shore.

The sonar showed that out of sight in the Bay’s often murky water, crab pots lay scattered all over the bottom, along with other fishing gear such as gill nets, and all manner of trash, even a laundry machine.

But the so-called “ghost pots” are a special concern because the wire mesh cages with openings to draw crabs in but not let them out can continue to catch — and kill — crabs and fish for years. They are taking a bite out of both the crab populations and the wallets of watermen. More often than not, Justis noted, the derelict pots he pulled up had something in them. “You’ve got fish, you’ve got crabs, and you’ve got ducks. All kinds of things,” he said. But, he added, “most of the time, they are dead.”

Concern about derelict crab pots in the Bay has been growing for a decade, and a new report attempts to estimate their Baywide impact. It estimates that more than 145,000 pots litter the bottom of the Bay — a number the report authors consider to be conservative.

Each year, the report estimated that those pots kill about 3.3 million crabs, 3.5 million white perch, 3.6 million Atlantic croaker, and smaller numbers of other species, including ducks, diamondback terrapins and striped bass.

The number of crabs killed amounts to 4.5 percent of the 2014 Baywide harvest, the report said. Nor is the problem limited to the Bay. Studies have found similar problems with fisheries that use “trap” devices to catch crabs and lobsters globally.

“It’s an issue that, around the country, folks may not be aware of unless you live close to an area where commercial fishing is a way of life,” said Amy Uhrin, senior scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Debris Program, which funded the study. “It is one of those ‘out-of-sight, out-of-mind’ issues.”

Financial impacts of lost pots

The report said impacts from lost pots could be reduced through collection programs and by requiring panels in pots that would degrade and create an escape hatch for crabs if the pot is left in the water. It also suggested trying to reduce conflicts between crabbers and boats, which is a major source of pot loss.

Justis said the lost pots are an ongoing problem. “Each year, even if you go back to the same spot, a lot of times you find new stuff.”

Nor is it just crabs and fish that suffer from lost pots. Watermen take a financial hit, too. Baywide, 12–20 percent of the 600,000 to 800,000 pots they fish annually are lost and never come out of the water, the report estimated. Fishermen collectively have to shell out $3.6 million to $5 million a year to replace the lost gear, it said.

But lost pots have an even bigger economic impact by reducing catches in nearby pots. Crabs are attracted to structures, including derelict pots, even if they’re so damaged or broken they no longer trap crabs. Crabs hanging around the abandoned gear don’t make it to the pots being actively fished.

“The derelict pots are essentially competition for the active pots,” said Donna Marie Bilkovic, a researcher at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, and lead author of the new report. “The crabs are definitely attracted to the structure.”

In “hot spots” with lots of derelict pots, the fishery becomes measurably less efficient, said Andrew Scheld, a VIMS fisheries economist who worked on the report. “It requires more people and pots to catch the same amount that they could if the derelict gear just wasn’t out there.”

The study was not able to directly estimate the economic impact of the lost pots on catches. But conversely, it found that crab catches increased in areas of Maryland and Virginia where derelict pots were removed by watermen like Justis, when compared with areas where pots were not removed.

Based on that, scientists estimated that removal programs increased cumulative crab catches in those areas by slightly more than 38 million pounds from 2008 to 2014. That was worth about $33.5 million over that six-year period.

Scientists from the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office discovered the derelict pot problem when they began detecting large numbers of pots as they were using side-scan sonar to map bottom habitats during the winter — long after crab season had ended.

While other types of fishing gear, such as gill nets, are also lost, crab pots are the main derelict fishing gear in the Bay because so many are deployed — and lost.

When a severe decline in the blue crab population prompted NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service to declare the Bay’s fishery a failure in 2008 — spurring new catch restrictions and the closure of Virginia’s winter dredge harvest — it provided $30 million to Virginia and Maryland for conservation projects.

Both states used some of that money to hire watermen hard-hit by the new regulations to pull thousands of abandoned pots out of the Bay.

Crab pots are typically baited with dead fish to lure crabs inside, then placed in the water, where they are typically checked every day or so. They have “cull rings” that allow small crabs to escape, but large crabs are trapped.

Watermen mark their pots with small buoys that float on the water’s surface. But if the lines linking the pots to the buoys are severed, they often cannot find the gear. Sometimes the lines break. Frequently, the lines get snagged and tangled in the propellers of recreational or commercial boats, prompting boaters to cut them. Some are lost in the violent winds and waves of storms. More than 100,000 pots disappeared during hurricanes Dennis and Floyd in 1999. And, sometimes, old pots are simply discarded in the Bay.

The report estimated that Virginia had 87,048 derelict pots and Maryland 58,185. More are lost in Virginia, researchers say, because the state permits pots to be placed in Bay tributaries, where they are more likely to run afoul of boats.

Maryland does not allow crab pots in tributaries, though pots are densely deployed near their mouths, where heavy boat traffic accounts for derelict pot “hot spots” in those areas, the report suggests.

Lost pots ‘ghost fish for years’

However they are lost, pots that remain in the water can keep “ghost fishing” for crabs and fish, sometimes for years, until they begin to fall apart. Once the original bait is gone, traps often “self-bait” by trapping fish or crabs inside, and the cycle continues. On average, a derelict pot in the Bay catches 23 crabs a year, the report said.

Besides crabs, more than 40 species have been found in pots where they can perish from starvation, predation, low dissolved oxygen or disease. Unlike actively fished pots — they’re not checked so turtles and other species are never set free. In some Virginia tributaries, crab pots have been suspected of depleting local populations of diamond backed terrapins.

“One year, I pulled a pot that had 20-some turtles in there,” Justis said. “They were all dead.”

Scientists working on the study said that derelict crab pots are likely even deadlier than they reported.

In part, that’s because for the study, they assumed that lost pots only function for two years before they fall apart from corrosion. But many stay intact much longer, especially more expensive pots where the wire mesh is coated with vinyl.

Ward Slacum, a co-author of the report who has studied derelict crab pots in Maryland for nearly a decade, said he once placed pots in the Bay for 14 months to see what they would catch.

“When we took them out and cleaned them off, they had not degraded very much at all,” Slacum said. They were “trapping crabs and other organisms just as efficiently as something that was a month old.”

Also, the study did not examine the impact of ghost pots in habitats where crabs are particularly abundant, such as underwater grass beds and marsh edges. “We think we’ve underestimated that potential impact with those habitats,” Bilkovic said.

Solutions won’t be easy
The report offers a number of possible actions, but finding solutions won’t be easy.

Because many pots are lost due to impacts from boats or ships, it suggested actions to help reduce those conflicts. That could include using reflective tape on buoys so they are easier for boaters to see, educating recreational boaters about the impact of pot losses, restricting commercial traffic to channels and keeping crab pots out of busy channels.

But restricting those areas from crabbers wouldn’t be popular.

High traffic areas “happen to be some of the better places to crab,” said Robert T. Brown, president of the Maryland Watermen’s Association.

The report encouraged reviving pot retrieval efforts, and said that targeting areas with high densities of lost pots could be particularly effective to increase catches. Removing just 10 percent of the derelict pots from the five most heavily fished sites in each state could increase harvest by about 14 percent, the study estimated. Brown said he would like to see the derelict pot removal program resumed. “It got rid of a whole lot of them,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with doing that again. We’d be in favor of that.”

“A removal program wouldn’t necessarily have to target the entire Bay,” Uhrin said. “It would be more efficient to target these hot spots.”

But with the federal money used to pay for the pot removal programs gone, that means cash-strapped agencies would have to come up with a way to fund pot removal programs.

“It’s a resource thing,” said David Blazer, fisheries director for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. “It takes a lot of time and money and effort and resources.”

Also, while removal programs could reduce the economic impact of lost pots, they would have less of an impact on reducing the Baywide toll on crabs and other species. While targeting certain areas for retrieval might help watermen’s catches there, most derelicts pots would remain in the water, continuing to kill.

Biodegradable panel

One way to reduce the biological toll of derelict pots, the report said, would be to require that each has a biodegradable panel, instead of cull rings. The panels would still have holes big enough to let small crabs escape, but they would break down in a matter of weeks if the pots were left in the water, creating a large enough opening for fish and crabs to get out.

The report said biodegradable escape panels would reduce crab mortality in derelict pots from more than 3.3 million per year to less than 440,000.

While biodegradable panels would reduce the number of crabs killed, the derelict pots would remain on the bottom and still lure crabs away from actively fished pots.

“The big economic benefits we saw for the removal program were for taking the entire structure out of the water,” Scheld said.

That means, scientists said, that managers may need to use different strategies depending on whether they are more concerned about the economic or biological impacts of derelict pots — or, they may need multiple strategies.

“It could be there is not a one-size-fits-all solution in the Bay,” Slacum said.

Rob O’Reilly, chief of fisheries management with the Virginia Marine Resource Commission, said interest seems to be growing in that state in biodegradable panels. The idea is slated for discussion by the commission’s crab management advisory committee, and some watermen have expressed interest in testing the panels.

“I think we want to encourage, as we go on, these biodegradable panels,” O’Reilly said, but added, “It will take a little coaxing, I’m sure.”

Some people are already using them. One is Dan Knott, who joined the ranks of Virginia watermen this year after 23 years in the Army.

“I’m kind of a geek when it comes to cleaning up things and looking out for the environmental side of the house,” Knott said.

He grew up in Virginia and spent his summers on the Bay fishing with his grandfather, who was a waterman. But when Knott researched getting into the business, he grew concerned about the derelict pot problem and decided to voluntarily incorporate biodegradable panels.

“At least I’m doing my little bit in helping them out,” he said. Of the first 50 pots he put out this summer, 25 were either lost or stolen, he said.

While Knott said biodegradable panels might be a good idea, he said if watermen were required to use the panels, they should be allowed to offset the cost, perhaps by increasing catch limits. The panels cost between $1 and $2, and have to be replaced annually — which can add up for someone fishing hundreds of pots.

“Not everybody feels the way I do,” Knott said. “There has to be something to make these guys want to do it.

“They are not like me where I have a retirement coming in from the military,” he added. “And I tell you, it’s a hard living to make. You’ve got to put a lot into it to make anything.”
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rj
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« Reply #5 on: January 24, 2018, 11:48:14 PM »

GOOD NEWS:  At the third reading the bill was killed by a vote from the senate floor!! Smiley
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« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2018, 08:21:08 AM »

GOOD NEWS:  At the third reading, the bill was killed by a vote from the senate floor!! Smiley



 thumbsup thumbsup thumbsup thumbsup thumbsup thumbsup thumbsup
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"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, a crab in one hand, a beer in the other, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -- WOW--What a Ride!"
evinrude 130
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« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2018, 10:18:54 AM »

Not surprised, obviously some are not concerned with the loss of the biological toll like Mr Knott. That extra money to spend is more important, LOL.  Just think, maybe adding the new door could improve the catch ratio of crabs for everyone.  Like to know why the senate voted against it.
 Like the thought process though, at least some are concerned about crabs, fish , and turtles in the Chesapeake Bay.  Kudos to Mr knott and others like him.

But like the menhaden issue, money talks.  So money overrides doing what needs to be done, as usual in Virginia.
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« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2018, 11:07:45 AM »

Because there are too many regulations in every facet of life, in this country, as it is. Every new regulation costs you money, and/or time. Enough.
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« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2018, 11:49:28 AM »

not only to many regs it's just done on an est. kill from a very small sampling to get a number on total est kill due to derilict pots . BTW it's just the same as the est. catch of rec. crabbers in md when they put a number on overall rec. harvest. I wonder why in the case of est. kill off a small sampling goes way up while the est. on rec crabbers stays way down
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« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2018, 12:23:03 PM »

I have pulled up many a ghost pot. In fact there are 5-6 floats right in front of my house that the ice dragged in.  Willing to bet that when I pick them up in a few weeks there will only be a frame or a few pieces of wire left.  I have never pulled up a pot that was whole and had anything in it. 
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evinrude 130
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« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2018, 12:40:55 PM »

The removal of ghost pots was a good idea, but now there's no more money for it.  Wonder why, it was a win-win for crabbers.

 "The study was not able to directly estimate the economic impact of the lost pots on catches. But conversely, it found that crab catches increased in areas of Maryland and Virginia where derelict pots were removed by watermen like Justis, when compared with areas where pots were not removed.

Based on that, scientists estimated that removal programs increased cumulative crab catches in those areas by slightly more than 38 million pounds from 2008 to 2014. That was worth about $33.5 million over that six-year period. "

But with the federal money used to pay for the pot removal programs gone, that means cash-strapped agencies would have to come up with a way to fund pot removal programs.

“It’s a resource thing,” said David Blazer, fisheries director for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. “It takes a lot of time and money and effort and resources.”

Also, while removal programs could reduce the economic impact of lost pots, they would have less of an impact on reducing the Baywide toll on crabs and other species. While targeting certain areas for retrieval might help watermen’s catches there, most derelicts pots would remain in the water, continuing to kill.
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« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2018, 02:12:21 PM »

You know what costs nothing, and reduces ghost pots?

not running over floats!
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evinrude 130
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« Reply #13 on: January 25, 2018, 02:22:03 PM »

You know what costs nothing, and reduces ghost pots?

not running over floats!





 Or improving the  the floats with a flag so boaters can see then better. Like those darn planer boards the fishing guys use, but the good fishermen use flags so others can see the boards. Helps out to avoid running into them. .  Of course at night , things are tough to see.
 But the pots may get lost by other ways, like storms or not enough weight?
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« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2018, 03:58:18 PM »

waste of time and money.  Crabs will stop going in the pot way before the panel falls out.  They'll find their way out of the pot before they die waiting for a panel to rot.




 This says otherwise.

But lost pots have an even bigger economic impact by reducing catches in nearby pots. Crabs are attracted to structures, including derelict pots, even if they’re so damaged or broken they no longer
 trap crabs. Crabs hanging around the abandoned gear don’t make it to the pots being actively
fished.
However they are lost, pots that remain in the water can keep “ghost fishing” for crabs and fish, sometimes for years, until they begin to fall apart. Once the original bait is gone, traps often “self-bait” by trapping fish or crabs inside, and the cycle continues. On average, a derelict pot in the Bay catches 23 crabs a year, the report said.

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« Reply #15 on: January 25, 2018, 05:03:09 PM »

fake news.

the people that actually pulled ghost pots say otherwise to you saying otherwise.
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« Reply #16 on: January 25, 2018, 05:15:43 PM »

Everybody that has ever run crab pots knows that when they start to get dirty/fouled, they stop catching crabs!
That's why pots are coated with anti-fouling paint. You still have to pressure wash or pull the pots and let them sit
on shore for a while even with paint. The pots may "self-bait" with some smaller species of fish, but the crab by-catch
is minimal and the pots don't stay intact for long.
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« Reply #17 on: January 25, 2018, 07:51:05 PM »

fake news.

the people that actually pulled ghost pots say otherwise to you saying otherwise.



 So Clayton Justis is a liar or doesn't fit your narrative here?   Because he actually pulled ghost pots.   Fake news, maybe, or is it news some just don't want to hear or agree with.   The article has a lot of info in it that comes across as interesting.  There are other articles about ghost pots on the internet, basically saying the same thing.  All fake news?

http://www.wboc.com/story/35506036/derelict-crab-pots

When Virginia closed its winter dredge fishery in 2008, waterman Clay Justis turned his attention from catching crabs that season to collecting the gear that captures them

But the so-called “ghost pots” are a special concern because the wire mesh cages with openings to draw crabs in but not let them out can continue to catch — and kill — crabs and fish for years. They are taking a bite out of both the crab populations and the wallets of watermen. More often than not, Justis noted, the derelict pots he pulled up had something in them. “You’ve got fish, you’ve got crabs, and you’ve got ducks. All kinds of things,” he said. But, he added, “most of the time, they are dead.”
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« Reply #18 on: January 25, 2018, 08:29:30 PM »



 So Clayton Justis is a liar or doesn't fit your narrative here?   Because he actually pulled ghost pots.   Fake news, maybe, or is it news some just don't want to hear or agree with.   The article has a lot of info in it that comes across as interesting.  There are other articles about ghost pots on the internet, basically saying the same thing.  All fake news?

http://www.wboc.com/story/35506036/derelict-crab-pots

When Virginia closed its winter dredge fishery in 2008, waterman Clay Justis turned his attention from catching crabs that season to collecting the gear that captures them

But the so-called “ghost pots” are a special concern because the wire mesh cages with openings to draw crabs in but not let them out can continue to catch — and kill — crabs and fish for years. They are taking a bite out of both the crab populations and the wallets of watermen. More often than not, Justis noted, the derelict pots he pulled up had something in them. “You’ve got fish, you’ve got crabs, and you’ve got ducks. All kinds of things,” he said. But, he added, “most of the time, they are dead.”

What Mikie said.  Fouled pots stop catching.  this picture of continuing to catch and kill for years is BS.
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« Reply #19 on: January 25, 2018, 08:46:56 PM »

What Mikie said.  Fouled pots stop catching.  this picture of continuing to catch and kill for years is BS.



 I'm going with facts, not what you or mikie say. Here's another article quoting another waterman commenting on what he saw in ghost pots. These guys lying too, I don't think so. Mr Hogge  and MR Domenech seems honest enough on this article.  What do they gain by lying?   They found 22,00 dead crabs  in 3 years. If there's 60 crabs to a bushel, that's just over 360 bushel of crabs.  Also add in fish dying in ghost pots.

 "These “ghost pots” capture legions of crabs, eels, terrapins, fish, muskrats and even an occasional duck, leaving them to die. For three years starting in 2008, more than 22,000 blue crabs, male and female, were found dead in ghost pots collected by watermen such as the Hogges under a federal and state program that pays for their work. Another 2,600 oyster toadfish, 950 sea snails known as whelks and 430 black sea bass were killed. "


Ghosts’ haunt creatures on bay’s bottom
 
Captain Edward Hogge pulls in a “ghost pot” on his 40-foot deadrise boat. (Darryl Fears/THE WASHINGTON POST)
By Darryl Fears January 1, 2012
GLOUCESTER POINT, Va. — Under the murky waters of the York River, an eerie blur appeared suddenly on Edward Hogge’s sonar, near where his 40-foot deadrise boat sailed about a mile offshore on a cool December morning.

Hogge made a hard right turn. “I’m going back to get it,” he said. He called out to his wife and first mate, Cheryl. “All right, honey, get your gloves on. Get ready!” When the boat stopped, she tossed a long rope lined with hooks overboard and yanked it. “It’s got something! It’s heavy,” Cheryl Hogge said.

Be warned: This is a ghost story. A hidden killer haunts marine life in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries: tens of thousands of baited crab traps left behind by watermen each year.

These “ghost pots” capture legions of crabs, eels, terrapins, fish, muskrats and even an occasional duck, leaving them to die. For three years starting in 2008, more than 22,000 blue crabs, male and female, were found dead in ghost pots collected by watermen such as the Hogges under a federal and state program that pays for their work. Another 2,600 oyster toadfish, 950 sea snails known as whelks and 430 black sea bass were killed.



“It’s like a feeding machine,” said state Department of Natural Resources Secretary Doug Domenech, who recently sailed with the Hogges to see firsthand how the program partly overseen by his agency works. “Animals get stuck and can’t get out. So they . . . become bait for the next animal that comes.”

 
Watermen in Virginia are licensed to set about 300,000 crab pots each year. About 20 percent — 60,000 — are lost, according to a Virginia Institute of Marine Science estimate. The certain toll of dead animals represents those found in about 28,000 recovered pots, said Kirk J. Havens, director of the Coastal Watersheds Program for the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. A short-lived program in Maryland removed 6,000 ghost pots, he said.

The Chesapeake’s iconic blue crabs have enough problems without catching a death sentence in a ghost pot. Their dangerously low population is just beginning to come back after Virginia closed the December-to-March winter fishery as part of an effort to protect them.


Each ghost pot traps about 50 crabs per year, according to an estimate by the institute. The killing continues all year, even when the waters are closed to crab harvesting.

The program to remove the pots has been a success, Havens said. But it will end a four-year run when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration stops funding it after this year’s haul in March.

On this bright morning, though, Edward and Cheryl
Hogge are still at work. They reach over the side of their boat and haul up a deformed peeler crab trap heavy with mud, grass and too many sea grapes to count. Inside, flat on its back, white belly gleaming in the sun, is a tiny dead blue crab.

The trap once was sturdy chicken wire coated by vinyl, but now it is a dilapidated animal trap, jailing creatures until they perish. New pots come with a buoy that floats to the surface and marks a trap’s place in the water. But boats often snag the ropes, and storms may roll the trap, wrapping the tether around it and pulling the buoy under during the March-to-November open crab fishery.


“Some of them you can’t get,” Edward Hogge said. “They’re so old, they’ve been in the water so long, they fall apart.”

Earlier in the day, the Hogges pulled up traps with three dead or dying eels, a weakened oyster toadfish and a dead croaker.

“Last year, we caught a lot of them,” Cheryl Hogge said of ghost pots. “I think we caught, like, 348 or something, right up at the top of the most caught.”

Virginia is trying to create a more animal-friendly pot. It would have a portal made of a plant-based polymer that dissolves if left in water for a year or more, allowing animals to escape forgotten pots.

The loss of the Chesapeake Bay’s most recognized seafood is detrimental to more than just the crab. Restaurants, retailers and customers pay more for crabs, and watermen, who rely on the creatures for income, suffer too.

In 2007, the federal government allocated $15 million to Maryland and Virginia “to assist those economically hurt by the commercial fishery failure, and to support the restoration of the fishery.” In other words, taxpayers would help watermen put food on the table and scientists to resurrect the crab.


Virginia used its money to develop a Blue Crab Fishery Resource Disaster Relief Plan.

When then-Gov. Tim Kaine (D) insisted that watermen work for the assistance, the Virginia Department of Natural Resources and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science came up with the ghost pot removal program.

Edward Hogge said recruiting watermen for the work was a good idea. “Those guys at VIMS are very smart, but they don’t know the water like we do.”

Hogge was chosen for the job after state officials entered his winter dredging license in a lottery. He was issued a new, $2,500 side-scan imaging sonar for his 51-year-old boat and paid $300 per day and fuel costs for up to 50 days. He and his wife spend six hours on the water, usually starting at 7 a.m., when temperatures often are below 30 degrees on the water.

Like most watermen, Hogge would rather be crabbing, and he wants the state to open the winter fishery.


“It took our work, and there’s nothing for us to do,” he said. “Now they want to take this program away. I have no education. I quit school in the fifth grade. I was married by the time I was 17. I’ve got to do something.”

As he steered the boat back, Hogge had an admission about the winter dredge harvest, which involves raking up crabs that have buried themselves in the bay bottom to shelter from the cold. “That dredge is heavy when it comes down. When I drag it, I catch about three bushels of crabs. But I also kill three bushels. If it doesn’t get all the crab, it gets part of it.”

Earlier, as he loaded a ghost pot onto his boat, Hogge had another admission. Most watermen are honest workers, he said, but “this was thrown overboard deliberately. A lot of them don’t care. That’s just the way some people are.”
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