A large scale cleanup project to improve water quality, remove fishing debris and collect derelict crab pots from all of Eastern North Carolina’s coastal sounds will soon get underway.
Commercial fishers and North Carolina Marine Patrol will participate in the annual cleanup effort which takes from January 15th to February 7th. Now in its third year, the project received $100,000 in funding from the General Assembly, allowing the North Carolina Coastal Federation to hire and train 76 local fishers to remove lost fishing gear during the “no-potting” period.
“This is helping the economy," said Sara Hallas, the Coastal Education Coordinator for the North Carolina Coastal Federation. "This is a slower time of the year for the fishing industry, especially for the crabbing industry, the fishing would be closed during this time of the year. So it does give them an option for employment during the slow winter season.”
Crews, which are comprised of two people, are paid $450 per day. Last year, 3,496 crab pots were collected from coastal fishing waters. But Hallas expects crews will encounter more marine debris this year because of Hurricane Florence.
“There will be most of the boats working in the Albemarle and Pamlico Sound as it’s a larger area and is where most of the commercial crab pot fishery takes place.”
Crews will also collect crab pots from Bogue Sound, Core Sound and coastal waters that extend to the southernmost point of North Carolina.