Derelict Fishing Gear Recovery and Disposal Project

Gear Recovery Videos

GOMLF, in collaboration with the Maine Department of Marine Resources, was one of fourteen organizations to receive funds through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Gulf of Maine Environmental Compliance & Protection Fund 2009 for a cooperative two-year pilot project to recover, document and properly dispose of derelict fishing gear.

Funding for the grant resulted from organizational community service payments ordered as part of a criminal penalty imposed upon a shipping company for criminal violations related to deliberate vessel pollution in close proximity to the State of Maine. The prosecution of the case was made possible through the combined efforts of U.S. Coast Guard resources and the United States Attorney for Maine.

To recover the so-called ‘ghost gear’, GOMLF contracts with fishermen to drag specially-made grapple gear in certain areas where traps are known to be lost, and where grappling is a viable retrieval method. Ten vessels are hired in each of the seven lobster management zones, working for two days in designated areas. Recovered gear is brought to a central wharf for sorting and processing. Information about by-catch, escape vent functionality, and age of trap is recorded for each trap. Traps that are unusable are crushed and sold to a metal recycling company; fishable traps are returned to their owners or stored by Maine Marine Patrol for future reclamation.

Hearing about the success of the gear retrieval program and wanting to give back to the lobster industry, the New York Yacht Club initiated a contribution to GOMLF for use in recovering traps in areas where the sailing fleets often hold their regattas. For more details, see the press release.