Bernadine DeAsis, Environmental Specialist showing off a piece of a derelict crab pot.
The DIA Marine Debris Removal Project was conducted to: locate, remove and prevent accumulation of derelict crab pots from marine habitats of the Juneau marine environment, Gastineau Channel area identified as Essential Fish Habitats, including marine protected areas, Habitat Areas of Particular Concern for salmon and known distribution areas for halibut, Dungeness, Tanner and King crab.
The DIA Marine Debris Project Conducted 3 days of Sonar Scanning in the Gastineau Channel, Sandy Beach Study area on April 18-20, 2017. Sonar results: Fen Enterprises (AFS), Scanned 40 linear miles, located a total 209 pot targets. 169 pots up to 1 meter in size, 32 pots up to 2 meters in size, and 8 pots over 2 meters or larger in size. We also found 4 sunken boats and 5 tires.
The DIA Marine Debris Project Conducted 10 days of removal operations on May 15-24, 2017. DIA contracted Natural Resources Consultants, Inc. (NRC) to coordinate field operations. The Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G) provided a 22’ Munson landing craft with a pot puller. An engineered grapple system was used to retrieve the lost pots.
During the project constraints consisted of limited approachable targets (i.e., near cable, near sunken ships, RKC pots, boulders, etc.). Limited vessel capacity (i.e., size, pot puller, etc.). Depth of pots, tide changes, weather changes, etc.
22 legal sized Dungeness crab were found in 2 lost crab pots, 20 alive and 2 dead. We also found 1 tanner crab, 1 white spotted greenling, several sea urnchins and star fish trapped in the lost crab pots.
Lost crab pots in the Gastineau Channel are due to pots getting tangled together from buoy lines, either being too long or set too close together. Other factors assume that the strong tides may have an effect on pushing the pots close together, resulting in tangling and causing the buoys to submerge and sink. Another observation shows that most of the buoys may have failed due to extreme overgrowth of marine life (plants, muscles, barnacles, etc.) on the buoys, causing them to submerge and sink below the water lines. A final observation shows that poor buoy systems are being used, such as milk jugs, or cheap plastic containers, which are not adequate enough to stay afloat in this harsh marine environment.