Derelict fishing gear like this lobster trap can pose dangers to wildlife, vessels, and people. Marine debris is a serious environmental problem. title=
Derelict fishing gear like this lobster trap can pose dangers to wildlife, vessels, and people. Marine debris is a serious environmental problem.
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Event Date: 
Saturday, June 19, 2021 - 09:00

On Saturday, June 19th, volunteers from Santa Barbara Channelkeeper and members of the commercial fishing community will remove derelict lobster traps from the sand along Santa Barbara’s coastline. Channelkeeper’s Lobster Trap Cleanup Event will begin at Ellwood Beach at 9:00 am and move north toward Haskell’s Beach. Volunteers will dig out partially buried traps and prepare them to be loaded onto a commercial fishing vessel for proper disposal.

In May, the organization launched a Watershed Brigade initiative to mobilize community volunteers to clear marine debris from local beaches. Last month, Watershed Brigade volunteers surveyed the coast for derelict lobster traps and identified 44 traps along the coastline. Channelkeeper reviewed the data and determined that the highest concentration of traps (38) is located on the stretch of sand between Haskell’s and Ellwood Beaches. On Saturday, the organization plans to remove as many of those traps as possible.

Derelict lobster traps are a serious environmental problem globally and locally. Each winter, storms and heavy swells dislodge lobster traps. As ghost traps drift, they can entangle marine wildlife, release microplastics, and pose safety hazards to both vessels and beachgoers. Ultimately, they wash up on local beaches as pollution.

The U.S. Department of Fish & Wildlife calls marine debris “one of the most pervasive threats to the health of the world’s coastal areas, oceans, and waterways,” and explains that “derelict fishing gear can injure or kill marine and coastal wildlife, damage and degrade habitats, interfere with navigational safety, cause economic loss to fishing and maritime industries, and threaten human health and safety.”

“Our Watershed Brigade was designed for exactly this kind of project,” said Ben Pitterle, Channelkeeper’s Interim Executive Director. “Our community is full of individuals who want to make a difference and help keep our beaches, creeks, and backcountry free of litter. By working together, we can help remove thousands of pounds of derelict fishing gear that would otherwise have persisted on this beach for years and years.”

Santa Barbara Channelkeeper invites the public to join in the effort at Ellwood Beach on June 19 between 9:00 am and 1:30 pm. Volunteers should bring work gloves, sunhats, and water, and wear long-sleeves, pants, and closed-toe shoes since lobster traps can be challenging to dislodge. To sign up, please visit the Watershed Brigade’s event page

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