"NORFOLK, Va. — The U.S. government is launching a new program to combat the scourge of abandoned crab and lobster traps, which can dilute harvests and kill other fish in coastal waters from Maine to Alaska.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has chosen William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science to anchor the program. The university announced Friday that NOAA is providing an $8 million grant to the institute to implement the project.
Abandoned fishing gear is a worldwide problem that’s been referred to as anything from “ ghost nets ” to the “land mines of the sea.” The lost equipment is often dislodged by storms or passing boats, but it still will attract and kill marine life.
Industry experts and scientists estimate commercial fishermen lose about 10% of their traps per year to bad weather, strong currents and vessels that sever tie lines. A 2001 study suggested that ghost fishing kills 4 million to 10 million blue crabs each year in Louisiana alone."