Making the Best of a Catch in Whale-Friendly Lobster Fishing

NOAA's Response and Restoration Blog

This is a post by the NOAA Marine Debris Program’s Anna Manyak.

Derelict fishing gear is a prevalent type of marine debris throughout the oceans, and like other forms of marine debris, it is a complicated issue without a clear solution. Recently, I participated in a coastal cleanup in New Hampshire with members of Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation and University of New Hampshire Sea Grant, where I got to see the issue firsthand. In New Hampshire and throughout New England states, regulations designed to protect important marine species and the personal property of lobstermen have unintentionally led to a significant marine debris issue.

To understand the issue, it’s important to understand how the lobster fishery works in New England. Lobsters are caught using metal or wooden lobster “pots,” which can be deployed in a number of configurations based off of the following general diagram (for many…

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