Conservation groups will begin an effort next year to clear debris from North Carolina waterways. Fishermen have told coastal organizations that many spots where they drop lines are littered with old crab pots and debris hidden deep in the water.
The North Carolina Coastal Federation is leading a two-year project to clean up state waters from StumpyPoint to the Virginia line. Ladd Bayliss is one of the federation's coastal advocates.
"Marine Patrol does this every year during the no-potting period which is around typically the middle of January to early February," Bayliss says. "We thought that we could design some sort of collaborative effort where we could pay commercial fishermen to help Marine Patrol accomplish this effort."
The project is being funded with grants from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the North Carolina Sea Grant.
Debris such as old nets and fishing line will be trashed. If pots are still set, the owners could be cited for illegal fishing. Bayliss says some of the unclaimed pots will be re-purposed as reefs for oyster beds.