Volunteers Clear Lobster Traps from Black Rock Beach
Source: Santa Barbara Channel Keeper
On Saturday, May 21, nearly fifty volunteers with Santa Barbara Channelkeeper and members of the commercial fishing community worked together at Black Rock Beach in Goleta to dig out and remove forty lobster traps that had washed ashore and prepared twenty more for future removal.
During lobster season, storms with heavy swells can dislodge the traps that have been set and send them adrift. As these traps are carried by currents, they can entangle marine organisms, release microplastics, and pose safety hazards to vessels. When they wash up on shore as debris, they can also be dangerous to beachgoers and wildlife.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife reports that approximately 6,500 traps are reported lost off the California coast each fishing season. Without regular cleanups, dozens of traps can accumulate on certain beaches and pile up over time.
On Saturday, volunteers used shovels and bolt cutters to pry buried traps out of the rocks and sand at Black Rock Beach in Goleta.
In 2021 Channelkeeper leveraged its Watershed Brigade community cleanup program and its volunteers to survey local beaches, helping to locate and report derelict traps to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Thanks to this community effort, the organization discovered a high concentration of traps that had accumulated near Black Rock Beach, close to a heavily fished area below More Mesa. After the 2022 lobster season ended on March 16th, the organization began planning with local fishermen to clear derelict traps from the beach.
During Saturday’s cleanup, volunteers used shovels and bolt cutters to pry buried traps out of the rocks and sand. The heavy, metal-framed traps were clipped onto a buoyed rope and winched through the surf to the Bella B, a commercial fishing vessel owned by local fisherman, Chris Voss.
The traps were clipped onto a buoyed rope and winched through the surf to the Bella B, a commercial fishing vessel
Kim Selkoe, Executive Director of Commercial Fishermen of Santa Barbara, participated in the event and ferried the buoy line back and forth from boat to shore by kayak along with volunteer Mark Matthews. Chris Voss, Ava Schulenberg, and Santa Barbara Harbor Commissioner Mike Nelson loaded the traps onboard the Bella B and transported them to Santa Barbara Harbor for recovery or proper disposal.
“We’re grateful for this opportunity to partner with our local fishing community,” said Benjamin Pitterle, Channelkeeper’s Science and Policy Director. “We also appreciate the dedicated work of volunteers, many of whom were UCSB students, who labored to clear the traps. By working together today, we were able to remove more than a thousand of pounds of derelict fishing gear that would otherwise have persisted on the beach for years.”