BAYBORO, N.C. (WNCT) – The North Carolina Coastal Federation’s Lost Fishing Gear Recovery Program is officially underway.

The hope is to clean up our waters and protect the environment. Men and women who fish across Eastern North Carolina are out on the water searching for crab pots. This gear, while it provides so much for the economy here — if left behind can cause some problems for the ecosystem.

Throughout the month of January, certain areas of the coastal inland waters are closed for crabbing.

“This is a good time of year for this project because the commercial fishers have to have their pots pulled out of the water, so any pots that are found we know have been lost and we can remove them,” said Coastal Education Coordinator for the NC Coastal Federation, Rachel Bisesi.

The goal is to remove as many crab pots that have been lost or abandoned because of the effects to the environment.

“They can become navigational hazards for boaters. They also litter the waterways in the sense that they’re still attracting wildlife,” said Bisesi. “So you’re going to see blue crab mortality or any other animal that gets stuck in the pots.”

It’s all done with the help of around 50 fishermen and women.

“We’ve recovered probably over 80 crab pots in the two previous days, plus what we get today,” said the owner of Endurance Seafood, Keith Bruno. “We’ll work one more day for the Coastal Fed, and hopefully clean up a bunch more.”

Last year around 2,000 crab pots were recovered coastwide. This program is funded by the North Carolina Commercial Fishing Resource Fund Grant Program.

“It’s really special because the funds that come from the fishermen and women paying their license fees are going back into that community at the same time. So we are really thankful to have that support,” added Bisesi.

All for one cause, clean waterways. 

“We all want the same thing. We want a great environment to thrive in. And if I can help them, and they in turn helped me. Boy, that’s a win win,” said Bruno.

This is the ninth year the North Carolina Coastal Federation and commercial fishermen and women are teaming up on this project. For more information on the Lost Fishing Gear Recovery Project, click here.