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marine debris

Coastal Topics Catalog: Marine Debris

research projects
Derelict Blue Crab Trap impacts on marine fisheries in the lower York River, Virginia
Lost or abandoned commercial fishing gear, including nets and traps, can present safety, nuissance, and environmental impacts in estuarine waters.

Marine Debris Project
This project was intended to demonstrate the feasibility of using side scan sonar surveys to locate abandoned or “ghost” fishing gear, particularly crab pots, in the Virginia tidal waters of the Chesapeake Bay, analyze existing records of ghost pots from the trawl survey program in Virginia, investigate the potential effect of ghost pots on fish communities in Virginia waters; and initially survey of the lower York River for ghost fishing gear. Products include a digital map of the surveyed area, annotated to indicate location of all identifiable fishing gear detected by the side scan sonar as well as a brief preliminary assessment of survey methodology and derelict trap impacts on marine organisms.

Sturgeon Spawning Habitat on the James and Appomattox Rivers/Side Scan Sonar
This project’s objectives are to conduct bottom mapping of potential Atlantic sturgeon spawning reaches using sidescan sonar to ascertain the presence and location of essential spawning habitat (e.g. gravel beds) in the James and Appomattox rivers. Areas surveyed include the upper reaches of the James River from Shirley Plantation to Richmond; as well as the Appomattox River from the mouth to the Colonial Heights Bridge.

science publications
Fishery failure, unemployed commercial fishers, and lost blue crab pots: An unexpected success story
A publication describing the economic value of the blue crab industry and the link to the marine debris program.

Interim Report NOAA Marine Debris
In order to address the affect of derelict traps on marine organisms, we investigated the following questions in the lower York River, Virginia. 1. How many derelict traps are present and what is the annual trap loss rate? 2. How long do derelict traps continue to effectively capture organisms? 3. How does “self-baiting” affect catch rates? 4. What is the catch rate of derelict traps of various ages?