If you’ve ever gone crabbing, you know that it is not hard to lose your crab pots. One poorly tied knot, and all of your well earned crabs are gone. But have you ever thought about what would happen to that crab pot?
At first, the bait attracts crabs, just like it normally would. The crabs are then trapped in the crab pot until they die. The dead crabs then attract more crabs, and other scavengers, for years, until the crab pot is removed or becomes too full of kelp, barnacles, and dead animals. Scientists estimate that a crab pot can impact up to 30 square feet of the ocean floor. If the crab pot lands in a fragile habitat, such as an eelgrass bed, then the damage is especially bad. Crab pots destroy eelgrass beds by digging out cavities in the sea floor. Eelgrass beds act as nurseries for young fish and invertebrates to grow up in, and when that habitat is taken away, it impacts the populations of those animals. Lost fishing nets can have a similar effect on the sea floor, and can also trap larger animals, such as seals. Marine mammals can also become tangled in lines from crab pots. There is now a law requiring fishermen to report lost nets, so that they can be retrieved before they cause too much damage.
So, how can you help?
Next time you go crabbing, make sure that you know how to use the equipment properly, so that you do not lose it. Make sure that your crab pots are not anchored in heavy boat traffic areas like shipping lanes, so that your lines are not cut. Even if you do not go crabbing, you can help by educating your friends and family about the impacts of lost crab pots.
For more information, visit this website: http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/commercial/crab/coastal/crabpots.pdf
Photo Credit: http://finecommittee.org/traps/