Volunteers Clean Up Our Waterways & Protect Marine Life – lunch & prizes, too
Tierra Verde, FL – January 20, 2022 – Ocean Aid 360, Tampa Bay Watch, and Clearwater Marine Aquarium are organizing volunteer boaters to participate in a family-friendly and semi-competitive marine debris removal effort (derelict crab traps and plastics) on Saturday, Jan. 22 at Belleair Causeway and Fort De Soto Park boat ramp.
Derelict and abandoned crab traps in Tampa Bay, as elsewhere, are a problem for several reasons:
- They continue to “ghost fish” (fishing that continues despite a trap being lost/unchecked by angler) killing not only crabs, but several other recreationally and commercially important marine species;
- They pose a navigational hazard to boaters;
- Can cause damage to valuable/sensitive habitats like seagrass or natural hardbottom environments;
- Manatees, dolphins & sea turtles can also become entangled in the trap line causing injury or death
“As a local fishing guide, I tell folks that our Ghost Trap Rodeo events are just like your favorite inshore fishing tournament, only instead of snook and redfish, we go out in search of derelict traps and marine debris that damage our fishery. Plus, enjoy family-friendly competition for thousands in prizes from Ocean Aid 360’s fishing industry partners,” says Capt. Neill Holland, President of Ocean Aid 360 (FWC event permit holders).
“This event is great because it gets community volunteers involved in helping to preserve and protect the bay by removing debris and keeping marine life from needlessly getting caught and killed in abandoned traps,” said Serra Herndon, Habitat Restoration Director for Tampa Bay Watch.
“Most of the animals rescued by our team have been impacted by some type of derelict marine debris,” said Clearwater Marine Aquarium Stranding Coordinator Abby Stone. “That’s why events like this are so important to collect these items before they can cause damage and bring awareness to our boating community.”Tampa Bay Watch, Ocean Aid 360, and Clearwater Marine Aquarium are partnering with Coastal Impact Fund for this important crab trap removal event. Coastal Impact Fund is a 501(c)(3) entity that provides thought provoking conservation programs which offer practical, real world sustainable solutions to preserve and restore the marine environment.
“Each year, hundreds of tons of derelict gear is discarded in landfills or illegally dumped, which can result in ‘ghost fishing’ or ‘ghost traps’,” said Devin Sanderson, Coastal Impact Fund’s Founder and President. “Ghost traps that are lost or abandoned continue to catch crabs and fish in large numbers, threaten stocks and damage the marine environment. Coastal Impact Fund works to create recycling programs for undesirable gear, from collection through disposal, providing both conservation and socioeconomic benefits.”
Coastal Impact Fund will utilize the traps collected during the events and deliver them to vetted partner agencies to serve as the base layer for new oyster restoration habitats at pivotal Florida watersheds in an effort to improve fish habitat, water quality and shoreline stabilization. The non-metal material such as stone crab traps, ropes, and buoys will be incinerated and converted into energy through a waste-to-energy program. This project falls in line with Coastal Impact Fund’s core belief of providing impactful, and cost-effective projects that will have a long-term positive effect on coastal and marine resources.
For more information regarding the FWC’s trap-retrieval program, blue crab trap closure dates, or regulations, visit MyFWC.com/Rules. You can also contact FWC’s trap-retrieval coordinator, Pamela Gruver, at 850-487-0554.This event would not be possible without the help from project partners including NOAA Marine Debris, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, SeaWorld Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation, St. Petersburg Parks and Recreation, Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County, Pinellas County & the City of Largo. Skidders in St. Petersburg and Westshore Pizza in Belleair donated food for volunteers at this event. For more information on Tampa Bay Watch’s local effort, please contact Serra Herndon at firstname.lastname@example.org or 727-867-8166 ext. 227 for information.
Tampa Bay Watch is a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) stewardship program dedicated exclusively to the charitable and scientific purpose of protecting and restoring the marine and wetland environments of the Tampa Bay estuary encompassing over 400 square miles of open water and 2,300 square miles of highly- developed watershed. Tampa Bay Watch involves more than 10,000 youth and adult volunteers each year in hands-on habitat restoration projects. For more information, visit www.tampabaywatch.org, or call 727-867-8166.
Ocean Aid 360, Inc. is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organized to design, manage, and implement research-based environmental and ecological interventions, through public and private partnerships, to improve and secure the health of vulnerable marine, coastal, wetland, and inland waterway habitats toward their renewed and/or continued ability to support future generations of healthy flora and fauna, as well as marine-dependent communities. For more information, visit www.OceanAid360.org, or call 727-200-7781.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit working marine rescue center dedicated to inspiring the human spirit through leadership in education, research, rescue, rehabilitation and release. CMA is home to rescued dolphins, sea turtles, river otters, stingrays, a nurse shark and more. Winter the dolphin’s story of survival, after an injury that caused her to lose her tail, has impacted millions of people around the world. Major motion picture Dolphin Tale (2011) features Winter’s story and its sequel Dolphin Tale 2 (2014) features the incredible story of Hope, a young resident dolphin of CMA. Through Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute, CMA conducts important global research focused on protecting manatees, right whales and sea turtles. The mission and potential to change people’s lives differentiates Clearwater Marine Aquarium from any other aquarium in the world. cmaquarium.org
The Ghost Trap Rodeo events travel State-wide, led by Ocean Aid 360, with FWC support. Over 88,000 pounds of high-priority marine debris has been collected since the travelling tournament events began in mid-2018.