Fewer crab pots lost means more crab on the table.
That’s the message Island County Marine Resources Committee and Northwest Straits Foundation is getting out with the start of crabbing season, which opens today and goes until Sept. 3.
“A lot of times people think a crab pot might have gotten stolen, but it may be that it was just lost,” said Anna Toledo, marine resources committee coordinator said.
Lost pots continue to catch crab, but no one is there to harvest them.
An estimated 12,000 crab pots are lost in Puget Sound every year, resulting in almost 180,000 Dungeness crab lost, according to a press release from the two organizations.
To try and curb the problem, volunteers from the marine resources committee and Sound Water Stewards will be at Cornet Bay and Fort Casey boat launches handing out fliers with tips and free rot cord. The cords are biodegradable, so they will rot away if the pot is lost and allow the trapped crabs to escape. Information will also be available at retailers where crabbing licenses are sold.
“The idea is that we’re giving people this information so that they don’t lose their crab pots,” said Toledo.
“People can catch more crab and also keep their pots.”
An important tip, she said, is to avoid marine transit and ferry lanes. This will not only decrease the risk of the pot being lost, but can avoid potentially major calamities. Last August one of the ferries on the Coupeville-to-Port Townsend route was put out of commission after lines from crab pots were tangled in the propulsion shaft.
Other tips include avoiding placing pots during strong tidal changes and currents, making buoys more visible, using a weighted line to avoid it being cut by passing boats, weighting the pot so it doesn’t move in the current or tidal changes, using a third more line than the water depth and staying with your pot.
Volunteers will also hand out gauges for measuring catches, and there will be a survey on the back of the fliers that, if filled out, enters people in a drawing to win new crabbing gear, Toledo said.
Additional information can be found at Northwest Straits Foundation’s website www.derelictgear.org