Great Aussie Crab Pot Recovery launches with call for community input

LOST, abandoned or discarded crab pots, also known as ghost gear, pose a major threat to the health of marine ecosystems. Critical species, such as crocodiles and sharks, as well as turtles and birds, inadvertently get caught in the pots and drown – yet all these species play a pivotal role in maintaining the resilience of our ecosystems and fish productivity. 

In a bid to address the growing impact of ghost crab pots, the Great Aussie Crab Pot Recovery has been launched. An initiative of OceanEarth Foundation, through its Ghostnets Australia program, in partnership with OzFish Unlimited, the program is collaborating with the recreational and commercial fishing community to better understand the root causes of the issue, clean-up existing pots and explore preventative avenues. 

The first step is to call on recreational fishers nationally to be part of the solution by sharing their thoughts and insight about the problem, through the Great Aussie Crab Pot Recovery Survey

“Fishers are part of the fabric of our community, and we are asking them to work with us to try and solve the issue and reduce the impact these abandoned pots are having on our ecosystems and wildlife,” said OceanEarth Foundation managing director Anissa Lawrence.

“We all have a role to play in responsible fishing practices that can help protect fishing into the future. This survey is a vital first step in the program, to expand our understanding of the complexities of the problem and gather valuable information that will enrich our learning and help guide the effectiveness of our efforts and prevent it recurring.” 

“These pots are easily lost when set and left, by both recreational and commercial fishers. But the impact of lost gear is far-reaching – it puts the resilience of ecosystems and fish productivity at risk,” she said.

Cassie Price, OzFish director of Habitat Programs, believes that complex challenges can be solved when people come together.

“Creating a sustainable fishing future to ensure the long-term health of our marine ecosystems is a shared responsibility, which relies on our collective commitment to managing issues like lost crab pots.

“OzFish will work with our fishing community and stakeholder partnerships to find the best solutions to this challenge, as together our positive impact is amplified, creating a legacy for future generations”, said Ms Price.

Following the survey, major clean up events will be held in the Gulf of Carpentaria during May, where years of lost crab pots will be recovered. The pots will then be recycled into useful products for fishers, with the proceeds being used to support habitat restoration. While the solutions identified will help prevent the future build-up of lost pots.

“The is a very exciting program and the first of its kind in Australia, as we are taking the lead in addressing responsible crab pot management.  It is a fantastic example of the fishing community being part of the solution to a long-term problem, while bringing great outcomes for our unique marine ecosystems,” Ms Lawrence concluded. 

The Great Aussie Crab Pot Recovery is a Ghost Nets Innovative Solutions project and has received grant funding from the Australian Government.

If you are a recreational fisher and would like to get involved with this initiative to improve the health of Australia’s marine ecosystems, head over to our Great Aussie Crab Pot Recovery page to fill in the survey.

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