"Wanted: Lost Crab Traps. Reward: $5"

"A pioneering project is cleaning up ghost fishing gear one crab trap at a time."

"Crab traps work a bit like Roach Motels: crabs crawl in, but they don’t crawl out. That’s good news for crab fishers’ chances of pulling in a good catch, but when traps get lost at sea, they become a menace to all sorts of animals.

With no one there to retrieve them, the traps continue to fish, says Ryan Bradley, head of the Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United, a nonprofit fishermen’s organization. “Marine life gets into the trap. Eventually, they can’t eat so they die, and then other marine life becomes attracted to it. They get into the trap, and they die. It just becomes this awful cycle of death.”

Derelict crab traps harm wildlife and disrupt other fishers, especially shrimpers. Bulky crab traps get caught in shrimping nets, tearing them open or blocking them from catching shrimp. Frustrated shrimpers, with nowhere to put the smelly traps, generally just throw them back, continuing the cycle.

But a group in Mississippi has found a solution: paying shrimpers a US $5 bounty to collect and recycle derelict crab traps. In just three years, the program has removed almost 3,000 crab traps from Mississippi waters. Crab traps are tagged, and those that are still in good condition are returned to their owners, while traps that are too broken down are recycled."

Ilima Loomis reports for Hakai magazine May 8, 2023.

Source: Hakai, 05/09/2023