ODFW release – NEWPORT, Ore – Contracted vessels will soon begin retrieving derelict commercial crab pots to reduce potential for entanglement with marine life. The spring in-season derelict crab pot recovery is a pilot project set up by the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission (ODCC) in partnership with ODFW. While crabbers try to keep close track of their valuable pots throughout the season, some gets moved and lost due to heavy storms, natural drifting debris, or vessel traffic and is then considered derelict gear. Recovery efforts target waters deeper than 40 fathoms (240 feet) where commercial crab pots are prohibited beginning May 1. This helps reduce the risk of entanglement with marine life listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Although prevalence of ESA-listed species entangled in Oregon crab pots is low, research shows endangered and threatened humpback whales are most abundant in offshore Oregon waters from spring through fall. Oregon’s main entanglement risk reduction strategy is designed to reduce the overlap of protected species with crab pots, and the number of vertical lines in the water. Retrieving derelict pots at the end of the spring crabbing season is supporting this strategy aimed at both conserving Oregon’s protected species and maintaining a sustainable and thriving commercial Dungeness crab fishery. The ODCC allocated $70,000 to contract with commercial crabbers to find and retrieve derelict pots along the Oregon coast. Crabbers applied to be part of this program. Successful applicants receive a daily stipend, $100 per pot retrieved, and reimbursement for fuel costs. Inside 40 fathoms, the commercial crabbing season continues through Aug. 14 but with a 20 percent reduction in the number of pots used to avoid crowding and reduce vertical lines. All pots must be removed from the water by the end of the season. Anyone can report derelict pots seen outside 40 fathoms to 541-267-5810 or email info@oregondungeness.org.

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