OCEAN CITY – The Maryland Coastal Bays Program (MCBP), along with a team of local watermen and volunteers successfully removed dozens of hidden “ghost” crab pots from the waters, in and around the resort area that were either abandoned or lost, causing a danger to several species along with navigation.
The MCBP recently partnered with local watermen and volunteers to remove marine debris with a focus on abandoned crab pots from the local bays. Crabber Skip Maisel, along with first mate Charlie Travers and Assateague Conservation Corps volunteers, spent two days on the water seeking and retrieving abandoned “ghost” crab pots. Fifty-five derelict pots in various stages of deterioration were removed from the water and transported locally for recycling.
Occasionally, a crab pot can become detached from its buoy or forgotten. These lost pots, known as “ghost pots,” are still able to continue catching crabs, fish, and terrapins. Even after the original bait is gone, the pots “re-bait” themselves. As new animals get trapped in the pots and die, they attract others that then become trapped as well. One study estimated that there are 85,000 ghost pots in the Maryland portion of Chesapeake Bay alone.
Crab pots are lost due to a variety of causes, such as gear conflicts, storm events, or debris catching the pots. However, the majority of crab pots lost in Maryland are due to boat propellers cutting the line. The easiest way to prevent this from occurring is to avoid crab pot marker floats. Not only does hitting a buoy lose the crab pot, but the boat’s props can also be damaged from getting tangled in the line.