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Group to retrieve lost crab pots, save marine wildlife

A crab pot in Langley.
A crab pot in Langley.

ANACORTES, Wash. (AP) — While most crab pots dropped into the Salish Sea are recovered, many are not, and the Northwest Straits Foundation is going after them.

Pots remaining on the seafloor can cause havoc for years, trapping and killing marine wildlife, the Skagit Valley Herald reported.

The organization will be in the waters near Anacortes late this month or early June to remove derelict crab pots located in the Cap Sante Marina and Guemes Island areas.

“The goal is to have the removals done before the recreational crabbing opener, which is typically mid-July in that area,” said foundation Marine Projects Manager Jason Morgan.

The group will use side scan sonar to identify the location of lost pots, which allows divers to enter the water at the exact spot to make a retrieval. In 2018, a sonar survey revealed 614 derelict crab pots and 486 were recovered.

“What was unique about it, with an estimated 12,000 crab pots lost in the Puget Sound each year, about 70% of those are from the recreational sector,” Morgan said. “In this area, that was flip-flopped and we saw about 70% commercial.”

Of that number, Morgan said there is a loss of about 180,000 harvestable male crabs each year. A single lost crab pot can kill up to 15 crabs annually.

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