Phones help crabbers retrieve gear before it kills whales

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HALF MOON BAY, Calif. (AP) – Fisherman Jake Bunch leans over the aspect of the fishing boat “Sadie Okay,” spears his catch, and reels it aboard: an deserted crab pot, dangling one limp lasagna noodle of kelp and dozens of ft of rope, simply the sort of fishing gear that has been snaring an growing variety of whales off U.S. coasts.

Confirmed counts of humpbacks, blue and different endangered or threatened species of whale entangled by the ropes, buoys and anchors of fishing gear hit a report 50 on the East Coast final yr, and tied the report on the West Coast at forty eight, in response to the Nationwide Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The unintentional entanglements can gouge whales’ flesh and mouth, weaken the animals, drown them, or kill them painfully, over months.

This yr, Bunch is certainly one of small variety of business fishermen out of Half Moon Bay, south of San Francisco, and 5 different ports up and down California who headed to sea once more after the West Coast’s Dungeness crab season ended this summer time.

The California fishermen are a part of a brand new effort utilizing their cellphones’ GPS and new software program pinpointing areas the place misplaced or deserted crabbing gear has been noticed. They retrieve the gear for a cost – at Half Moon Bay, it is $sixty five per pot -earlier than the fishing ropes can snag a whale.

Particularly stormy climate this yr has meant extra wayward crabbing gear than standard, Bunch stated lately on a grey late-summer time morning at sea.

“Makes it all of the extra necessary to select it up,” he says.

Bunch spots the algae-blackened buoy of his first derelict crab pot of the day simply after a humpback surfaces close to the Sadie Okay.

Leaning out the window of his boat’s cabin, Bunch makes use of his telephone to snap an image of the spot, capturing its location by way of the GPS setting. Then he hauls within the crab pot, the dimensions and form of an enormous truck tire, and removes the proprietor’s tag inside that California mandates. He tosses the lone reside crab contained in the pot again into the water – it is the offseason.

The crab gear goes again to Bunch’s port, which expenses the unique house owners $one hundred for returning the misplaced gear – a discount, in comparison with the $250 a brand new pot prices.

California fishermen and port officers working with the Nature Conservancy environmental group developed this system, designed to be reasonably priced and straightforward sufficient for ports to handle on their very own.

West Coast fishermen yearly lose…

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