GGGI PROJECT: Lobster Pot Recovery and Recycling in Gulf of Maine

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Project Overview

This project is one of the latest GGGI projects led by World Animal Protection in collaboration with GGGI members Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation (GOMLF) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA).

The project consisted of an at-sea gear removal in the Gulf of Maine as well as coordinated recovery and recycling efforts in an area where heavy lobster fishing occurs.  Local fishers dove in an area where they are aware of a large mass of gear having been lost and unable to be recovered with standard grappling. Vessels were hired in Casco Bay, Maine just off of Cape Elizabeth to dive on the ball of gear and use a dragger with a winch to assist in getting the gear on board.

The recovered gear was brought to a central wharf in Portland, ME for sorting and processing. This specific mass of gear was primarily nets and rope and after carefully cutting the debris into small sections it was taken to EcoMaine, a Waste to Energy Facility. The container used to haul the gear was generously donated by the NOAA Marine Debris Program. 

Locating and recovering lost fishing gear can save thousands of dollars for local fishers, prevent gear conflict, prevent the entrapment of local stocks, and protect the marine habitat. In the past, GOMLF has run similar recovery projects by grappling for lost traps and assorted gear. During those recovery efforts, data about by-catch, escape vent functionality, and age of trap are recorded for each trap, which will be valuable information for the GGGI Best Practice Working Group.

Project Objectives

  • Gather and analyse ghost gear related data in the Gulf of Maine;

  • Remove ghost gear at sea with help from local knowledgable fishers and divers.

  • Raise awareness of the negative impact of ghost gear among the local fishing industry, other stakeholders and the public;

  • Work with partners within the fishing industry and other stakeholders to create a long term sustainable model to prevent ghost gear entering the marine environment and to aid in its removal.       

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