GHOST FISHING POTS AND TRAPS
In all pot and trap fisheries, there’s always the danger of losing your pots for a number of reasons. These can include the following: lines being cut by propellers or other sharp objects, pots being set too deep for the buoy line, or pots that get dragged into deeper water by storms or tangles with other forms of fishing gear. These lost pots and traps can create what are known as ‘Ghost Fishing’ pots. They will continue to fish and “re-bait” themselves as new animals get into the pots and are trapped and die. This is especially the case when very effective one way entrances like Neptune Triggers are used on the pots and traps. These lost pots waste fishery, and other biological resources, and are not a good thing. The good news about this bad situation is that it is easily remedied with a variety of methods. Neptune Marine has long been an advocate for the prevention of ghost fishing pots and traps in all fisheries. Here are some of the common ways to solve the problem.
THE USE OF UNTREATED COTTON TWINE OR JUTE – These untreated materials will bio-degrade over time and release either an unloading door, escape panel or web panel. This allows the trapped animals to escape and stop the pot from ghost fishing. In the Alaska cod and crab pot fisheries, a #30 length of cotton twine is used to sew together an 18” cut piece of the pot’s side or tunnel web. For Dungeness crab pots, #60 cotton twine can be used to attach the unloading door hook. Cotton twine is very inexpensive and is easy to install. It will degrade quicker in warmer water than cold water.
THE USE OF UNTREATED METAL HOG RINGS – This method is commonly used in the Canadian and U.S. Atlantic lobster fishery. These bare steel hog rings corrode and when they break, they release an escape panel that allows the trapped animals to escape and disables the trap from ghost fishing. Another cheap and effective method but it does probably keep the lost traps ghost fishing longer than is desired.
THE USE OF GALVANIC TIMED RELEASES ( GTR’s) – These devices corrode in salt water and can be used in a number of ways to stop lost pots from ghost fishing. They can be used to reconnect a cut panel of netting or they can be used to activate an escape panel. They can also be used on the unloading door lash up. While GTR’s are more expensive than the two above methods, they offer certain advantages. They are ‘time certain’ meaning you will know when they will release. You can also visually inspect them to see how close they are too corroding through.
Capt. Neptune strongly recommends that fishermen be pro active in making sure their lost gear stops fishing when it’s lost. After all, the lost fishery resources killed in ghost fishing pots and traps represent your future catches.