Channel Islands Cleanup Removes 131 Lost Lobster Traps

Channel Islands Cleanup Removes 131 Lost Lobster Traps title=
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Source: National Marine Sanctuary Foundation

On a bright Thursday morning in late July, two local Santa Barbara commercial lobstermen and their crews left harbor to cross the Santa Barbara Channel in their respective vessels. But on this day, they weren’t looking for lobster. They, along with a crew from Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, were looking for marine debris. 

Over two days, July 30 and 31,  18 cleanup participants successfully removed 6,440 pounds of marine debris from a mile-long stretch of shoreline on Santa Cruz Island. Most of the debris recovered consisted of 131 lost lobster traps, the majority of which looked to be four years or older, before the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s trap tagging program was implemented. Other debris collected and disposed of included foam fishing buoys, rope, and miscellaneous plastics. The project marked the inaugural cleanup of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation’s Goal: Clean Seas Channel Islands initiative to keep the waters of Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary healthy and thriving.

On Thursday, the two lobster boats captained by veteran Santa Barbara lobstermen, Sam Shrout and Chris Voss, and the Santa Barbara Channelkeeper vessel captained by Ben Pitterle, also a member of the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council, left Santa Barbara Harbor to make the 30 mile (or 26 nautical mile) journey across the Santa Barbara Channel to Yellowbanks, a rocky shoreline on the south side of Santa Cruz Island.  The cleanup crew kayaked from their respective vessels to the shoreline, where they spent the day collecting lost lobster traps from the cobblestones and collecting smaller marine debris in bags below the mean high tide line. Manageable bags of debris were loaded up and kayaked off the shoreline to one of the vessels waiting offshore, while larger piles of lost lobster traps were tied together and floated out to the lobster boats via hydraulic pulley. Once they filled up all three vessels with as much debris as they were able to safely carry, they returned to Santa Barbara Harbor, where a 40-yard roll-off container was waiting. Eighty-six lost lobster traps (both intact and estimated from fragments) were collected along with a variety of other marine debris, totaling 3,700 pounds of trash.

On Friday, one lobster boat and its cleanup crew returned to Yellowbanks to collect the remaining lost traps and debris they weren’t able to carry the day before. Forty-five lost traps and miscellaneous debris were brought back to Santa Barbara Harbor, filling another 40-yard container with 2,740 pounds of debris.

Data on the numbers and types of debris collected were recorded in NOAA’s Marine Debris Tracker app.

The waters of Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary are some of the state of California’s most productive fishing grounds. Sanctuary and Foundation staff and local commercial lobstermen are proud to collaborate and work together to clean up marine debris. The Sanctuary is grateful this cleanup was still made possible through their partnerships with the lobstermen and Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, who were able to safely operate under CDC guidelines. 

While collaborative shoreline cleanups have been carried out at the Channel Islands on an ad hoc basis for the past 20 years, this particular effort represents the launch of Goal: Clean Seas Channel Islands, a new initiative funded by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation based on a successful marine debris cleanup model in the Florida Keys. Another cleanup is scheduled in the Channel Islands for September in association with the California Coastal Cleanup month.

marinesanctuary.org

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NostraChumash Aug 29, 2020 10:44 AM
Channel Islands Cleanup Removes 131 Lost Lobster Traps

Can you imagine..
The islands represent the oldest Native burial grounds in the americas..& this is their treatment?
In par with booze pong & fist-fights at the Mission.
Beautiful culture you have there.

goletatim Aug 29, 2020 07:03 PM
Channel Islands Cleanup Removes 131 Lost Lobster Traps

I imagine that the treatment of retrieving wayward traps from the shoreline is something to be celebrated.
Wish I would have know about the action and could have been involved in the clean up. Traps along the shoreline piss me off.
How many more are lurking deep offshore?

ChemicalSuperFreak Aug 29, 2020 01:49 PM
Channel Islands Cleanup Removes 131 Lost Lobster Traps

That's nothing. I've dived every island in the Channel, including the southern islands and as far out as San Nicholas. At each dive spot you're almost bound to come across a submerged trap.

Minibeast Aug 29, 2020 10:20 PM
Channel Islands Cleanup Removes 131 Lost Lobster Traps

CHEMICALSUPERFREAK. And whichever animals were caught in those traps are doomed to remain in the "lost" traps. After the traps have broken loose, for as long as there is bait in them or the scent of bait, the KEEP ON KILLING, too. Imagine being a lobster or crab and that's how you die: a caged, long-drawn-out, and lingering death, scrambling scrambling to the bitter end to get free.

ChemicalSuperFreak Aug 30, 2020 03:56 PM
Channel Islands Cleanup Removes 131 Lost Lobster Traps

MINIBEAST: True, and very sad. I discovered skeletal remains in one of about 50 I've come across in the past 10 years. Fortunately, most of these submerged and lost traps were pretty badly storm battered, wedged into reefs/rocks, and largely inoperable.

Minibeast Aug 29, 2020 02:05 PM
Channel Islands Cleanup Removes 131 Lost Lobster Traps

Now get on over to Ellwood Beach and retrieve the 40+ traps that have been there for years. There needs to be some type of tracking/i.d. system for these traps, so that the owners are held responsible and fined for littering our beaches.

a-1598736077 Aug 29, 2020 02:21 PM
Channel Islands Cleanup Removes 131 Lost Lobster Traps

2nd paragraph, 2nd sentence: "Most of the debris recovered consisted of 131 lost lobster traps, the majority of which looked to be four years or older, before the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s trap tagging program was implemented." You're welcome.

LDighera Aug 31, 2020 06:17 AM
Channel Islands Cleanup Removes 131 Lost Lobster Traps

My home is sited on a bluff-top overlooking More Mesa Shores beach. I have repeatedly asked California Department of Fish and Wildlife officers to collect the lobster traps still submerged with their floats bobbing immediately after the end of California Spiny Lobster season, but they never did. Thank you. :-(

thecrablady Aug 30, 2020 09:47 PM
Channel Islands Cleanup Removes 131 Lost Lobster Traps

These lobster fishermen are volunteering their personal time to clean up debris (including traps that don’t belong to them) in conjunction with the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Instead of bashing them, how about either get involved in the clean up program or supporting our commercial fishing community by buying seafood from the local fishermen working their butts off to support their families and community?

PitMix Aug 31, 2020 10:10 AM
Channel Islands Cleanup Removes 131 Lost Lobster Traps

Story doesn't say they volunteered their time and boats, or did I miss that? Fishing is one of the last jobs that doesn't require the harvester to put any input back into the system. Through this system we are slowly exhausting the resource until the job will not be viable. Abalone, otters, whales, tuna, mackerel- the tragedy of the commons continues.

DTOM Sep 03, 2020 06:19 PM
Channel Islands Cleanup Removes 131 Lost Lobster Traps

This is great! Every time I go anywhere near or on the beaches around here, or anywhere I go for that matter if I see any sort of non-biodegradable trash, I snatch it up...even if it means keeping it inside my wetsuit during a surf...just the little bit I do for my ocean and my community of the entire world...those ropes are such a nuisance! I grab those bits and plastic bottles, especially, TOO! Oh yeah, also, BE that person the cuts up your soda can carry rings! You'r seafood dinner and intestines will thank you!

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