Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date



Derelict fishing gear represents a major challenge to marine resource management: whether through deliberate abandonment or through accidental loss, derelict traps in particular have significant negative effects both economic (e.g., reduced fishery harvest from ghost fishing and gear competition that leads to the reduced efficiency of active gear) and ecological (e.g., degraded habitats and marine food webs and crab and bycatch mortality). Throughout the Chesapeake Bay, commercial harvest of hard-shelled blue crabs is a major fishing activity: every year sees the deployment of several hundred thousand blue crab traps (known locally as crab “pots”) across the Bay, of which an estimated 12-20% are lost each year. This report focuses on these derelict crab pots, drawing on many direct or remote observations and other data to quantify their abundance and spatial distribution across the Chesapeake Bay, and their resulting ecological and economic effects.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.


Marine Debris Program, Office of Response and Restoration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Contract DG133E-10-CQ-0034, Task Order 007