Next month, VIMS will send a survey to more than 1,000 licensed hard pot crabbers in the state seeking feedback about their experiences with derelict crab pots, also commonly known as “ghost” pots.
VIMS says studies show that crabbers may lose up to a fifth of their pots— usually to foul weather or boat propellers— every year, and those lost pots can cause ecological and economic impacts. The Institute is hoping the survey will shed light on how watermen view the problem, and help identify ways to reduce the number of pots lingering in Bay waters.
The Derelict Blue Crab Pot Survey was created by VIMS graduate student and Virginia Sea Grant graduate research fellow Jim DelBene, who says it’s crucial that commercial watermen in Virginia be able to share their opinions so that regulators can try to solve the problem in the most effective way. “Successful mitigation strategies require buy-in from the crabbers,” DelBene says, “so it’s essential to hear from them.”
Here’s the real story. Derelict pots are, 95% of the time, not the fault of professional waterman. In fact, every waterman I know checks out and picks up derelict pots. The ghost pot problem is mainly caused by recreational fishers, many of them with very expensive homes along the coast and creeks. If you want to educate someone about derelict fishing gear, you need to start with recreational fisherman.
It’s odd you would have to say this to so-called scientists—but not really surprising either.