Wanted: NC fishermen to collect lost crab pots, other fishing gear

The N.C. Coastal Federation is looking for commercial fishermen willing to help pull old crab pots and other abandoned fishing gear from coastal waters this winter.

It’s the second year of a federally funded test program that removed 201 crab pots from parts of Albemarle and Pamlico sounds last winter.

The project is intended to give commercial watermen another source of income, as well as clear the water of unwanted debris, said Ladd Bayliss of the coastal federation, a private, nonprofit organization. It augments the efforts of the N.C. Marine Patrol, which has conducted its own annual cleanup since 2003 and collected 163 crab pots last winter.

The collection is scheduled to begin Jan. 19 in an area from Currituck Sound southward to Oregon Inlet. The federation will pay fishermen $300 a day and their mates $100 a day to retrieve lost and abandoned crab pots and other fishing gear, during a time of year when no crab pots are allowed in the water.

Some of the fishing boats will be equipped with side-scan sonar to help locate lost gear below the water’s surface.

Applications for the program are due Oct. 17 and are available online on the Coastal Federation’s web site, www.nccoast.org, and at Oneal’s Sea Harvest in Wanchese, The Rope Shop in Manteo and Full Circle Crab Co. in Columbia.