Derelict Fishing Gear Removal

Derelict Fishing Gear Removal

Decades of a thriving commercial and recreational fishery in Puget Sound has left tons of old fishing gear behind. Thousands of old crab pots litter the seafloor and hundreds of nets were caught in rocky outcroppings and draped along waterways. Gillnets and crab pots (commercial and sport) continue to fish long after they become lost. The result is wasted seafood and needless damage to marine resources and habitat.

Originating with the Clallam MRC, derelict fishing gear removal has been a successful project that is now overseen by the Northwest Straits Foundation and is conducted at a regional scale and shared internationally. More information about the ongoing program can be found at

2017 & 2018 Recreational Crabbing Outreach

Summer interns with the Clallam County Marine Resources Committees provided educational materials including gauges at local boat launches during the summer crabbing season. They were also available to discuss how to correctly set your crab pot so you can catch more crab. The crabber educational materials were available at retail stores selling crab licenses and gear. Our goal is zero lost crab pots in Puget Sound and for everyone to have a successful day on the water.

To avoid loosing your pot this is what you can do:

  • CHECK TIDES AND CURRENTS. Avoid crabbing during strong tidal changes and currents.
  • USE HIGH VISIBILITY BUOYS to clearly mark your gear.
  • USE A WEIGHTED LINE to sink below the surface and avoid being cut by passing boats.
  • WEIGHT YOUR POT so they do not move in high currents or tidal changes
  • USE LONGER LINE. Use 1/3 more line than water depth to allow for changes in tides and currents
  • SECURE LID AND ESCAPE PANELS WITH BIODEGRADABLE COTTON ESCAPE CORD. This allows crabs to escape from lost pots after the cord degrades.

In 2016 the Northwest Strait Foundations supported by a large advisory committee developed a prevention plan for lost crab pots in Puget Sound. The plan is available here.


2018 crabber outreach at Swains
Crab fishing boat
Derelict Fishing Gear Removal