Two Problems: One Solution

crab-pots-croaker-08-31-2006cProblem one: Oysters are in serious trouble.
Problem two: Old fishing gear keeps on fishing.
Solution: collect the gear and build a reef for oysters.

All over the eastern United Stated, oyster populations have been in serious decline for more than 100 years thanks to over fishing, pollution, and habitat destruction. In North Carolina, there are 90% fewer oysters than there were 100 years ago, and in the Chesapeake Bay it’s even worse — more than 99% of the oysters are gone.

Everywhere people fish—bays, streams, and oceans—you can find fishing gear left behind. Crab pots break free of the buoys that help fishermen find them. Pieces of fishing net that fishermen drag behind their boats get ripped and left to drift. Called ghost gear, this stuff keeps on fishing. In the Chesapeake Bay alone, ghost crab pots kill around 1.2 million crabs every year.

Last month, some smart folks at the North Carolina Coastal Federation started addressing both problems when they hired fishermen to seek and collect abandoned fishing gear that they will then use to build artificial oyster reefs. Oysters can’t live on a soft, sandy or muddy bottom, so conservation organizations make artificial reefs of concrete and other materials where oysters can settle down and grow. The fishermen collected 350 pots in the first two days. The pots are made of wire mesh, which is perfect for building concrete reef blocks.

Check out the video of fishermen collecting abandoned crab pots