Long Island Sound Derelict Lobster Gear Assessment, Removal and Prevention

Cornell Cooperative Extension's (CCE) Marine Program has conducted several research projects year round to remove derelict/abandoned ("ghost") lobster traps in the Long Island Sound (LIS) at the ports of Mattituck, Mount Sinai and Northport. The successes of these projects were manifested through the cooperation of the lobster industry by completion of surveys, planning sessions of operation field plans, and executing the fieldwork.

From September 2010-December 2013, CCE along with active Long Island Sound commercial lobstermen have removed a total of 11,826 derelict/abandoned ("ghost") lobster traps from the New York waters of the LIS equaling 591,300 lbs. (~268.2 metric tons) for all projects combined. It is known that there is still a substantial amount of derelict/abandoned ("ghost") lobster traps in the LIS. CCE marine program completed the projects listed below.

Project Summaries

NFWF (Fishing for Energy Fund) - Derelict Lobster Gear Assessment Removal, and Prevention (Pilot Project)

Cornell Cooperative Extension conducted a total of 28 research trips during the months of September, October, and November 2010. CCE retrieved 2,298 derelict lobster traps from the Western Long Island Sound (WLIS), which exceeded the anticipated retrieval of 2,250 derelict traps proposed for this pilot study. As a result of this project, 25.95 tons of derelict lobster traps were recycled and processed into clean renewable energy at the Covanta Energy "energy from waste" waste recovery facility in Hempstead, NY. The success of this project was manifested through the cooperation of the lobster industry by the completion of industry surveys, planning sessions of operation field plans, and executing the fieldwork. This pilot program proved that a substantial quantity of abandoned lobster traps have accumulated in the WLIS and a proven methodology was developed to successfully remove abandoned lobster traps in the future (See Final Report).

NFWF (Fishing for Energy Fund) - Derelict Lobster Gear Assessment, Removal, and Prevention II

Cornell Cooperative Extension conducted a total of 20 research trips from 2011-2012. CCE retrieved 1,583 derelict lobster traps from the Long Island Sound (LIS). As a result of this project, 28 metric tons of derelict lobster traps were recycled and processed into clean renewable energy at the Covanta Energy "energy from waste" waste recovery facility in Hempstead, NY. The success of this project was possible through the cooperation of the lobster industry through the completion of industry surveys, planning sessions related to operation field plans, and executing the fieldwork. This project verified that a substantial quantity of abandoned lobster traps have accumulated in the LIS and a successful methodology was developed to remove abandoned lobster traps (See Final Report).

NFWF (Long Island Sound Futures Fund) - Removing Ghost Fishing Gear to Restore the Sound for Long Island Fisheries (NY)

This project evaluated the impacts of "ghost fishing" lobster gear within the Long Island Sound (LIS) marine environment. This project proposed to remove all such identified gear from the study sites by employing the experience and expertise of commercial lobstermen from the area in an effort to mitigate "ghost fishing" impacts. This effort reduced the mortality of marine species along with Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN). As a result of this project, CCE removed 3,310 "ghost fishing" lobster traps from the LIS weighing 75.7 metric tons (See Final Report).

NOAA NMFS FY 2012 Community-based Marine Debris Removal Project - Long Island Sound Derelict Lobster Gear Assessment, Removal and Prevention

The goals of the "Long Island Sound Derelict Lobster Gear Assessment, Removal and Prevention" project were to; (1) Sustain a multi-community based partnership to systematically address the Long Island Sound (LIS) derelict lobster gear problem; (2) Formulate an accurate evaluation of the quantity of derelict lobster gear currently impacting the study area; (3) Determine the biological impacts of derelict lobster gear on the living resources within the study area; (4) Complete a controlled and precise removal program with a strict protocol so as not to disrupt ongoing legal harvest and insure that retrieved derelict lobster gear is managed in a manner consistent with NYSDEC regulations; (5) Reclaim 31 square miles of fishing ground; (6) Effectively reduce the impact of "ghost fishing" lobster traps and their impact on the Southern New England (SNE) lobster stock within the LIS; and (7) Effectively reduce the impacts of "ghost fishing" lobster traps and their impacts on "Species of Greatest Conservation Need" (SGCN) such as American lobster, blue crab, horseshoe crab, tautog, oyster toadfish, and cunner. CCE completed the fieldwork portion of this project. A total of 4,635 derelict lobster traps were removed from the LIS equaling 105.1 metric tons. See final report.

 

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