Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation
Testing Underwater Video Tech for Ghost Gear Removal in Narragansett Bay
Ghost gear refers to any fishing gear that has been abandoned, lost, or otherwise discarded, and is the most harmful form of marine debris. Rough estimates suggest that at least 640,000 metric tons of fishing gear could be lost worldwide annually, accounting for at least 10% of all plastic debris in the ocean.
The Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation (CFRF) will utilize fisher’s knowledge to identify ghost gear hot spots within Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. Though the impact of ghost gear on Narragansett Bay ecology is unknown, local fishers attest to hot spots of ghost gear within the bay and the general negative effects of such gear built up on the seafloor are well documented. This project will pilot the use of underwater video to supplement ghost gear removal tactics and enhance hotspot mapping in the bay. A live-feed underwater camera will be used to find derelict fish pots and traps and direct targeted grappling efforts to remove the gear aiming to reduce risk during gear removal.
The ghost gear map and technology testing results from this pilot program will be shared publicly and involve a wide range of stakeholders, primarily RI and New England fishers associated with the Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation. CFRF has partnered with the Ocean Conservancy’s Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) to expand outreach to fishers throughout New England on best management practices to prevent, reduce, and remove ghost gear.
- Pilot the use of low-cost underwater video technology to identify ghost gear hot spots and direct targeted efforts for removal.
- Leverage strong relationships with fishers to support industry’s participation in mapping and visually document underwater ghost fishing gear removal efforts in the Narragansett Bay for greater awareness-raising.
- Develop an interactive website with a hotspot map, images, and videos of ghost gear in the Bay to better visualize and communicate the issue of ghost gear to local environments and livelihoods.
- Coordinate with the GGGI to implement targeted educational workshops to engage nine fisher associations representing hundreds of fishers in Rhode Island on best practices to reduce gear loss.
- Expand GGGI’s New England regional engagement with fisheries to further educate industry practitioners about the long-term environmental and financial impacts of ghost gear.
About Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation (CFRF)
CFRF is a non-profit, private foundation established by commercial fishermen to conduct collaborative fisheries research and education projects. Its mission is to conduct and support research and education that assists in the achievement of sustainable fisheries through the generation and communication of better information and effective technologies for the benefit of individuals and businesses dependent on commercial fishing, consumers of seafood, and the public good.