Derelict Fishing Gear Removal

Derelict Fishing Gear Removal

Derelict (lost) fishing and crabbing gear is a serious threat to marine wildlife and habitats. Clallam MRC works to lessen this burden through outreach to local crabbers.

Thriving commercial and recreational fisheries in Puget Sound have left tons of old fishing gear behind for decades. Thousands of old crab pots litter the seafloor and hundreds of nets are caught in rocky outcroppings and draped along waterways. Gillnets and crab pots (commercial and sport) continue to fish long after they become lost. The result is wasted seafood and needless damage to marine resources and habitat.

In early 2000 the Clallam MRC initiated a very successful derelict fishing gear removal project. The project was later taken over by the Northwest Straits Foundation and it is now conducted on a regional scale and shared internationally. More information about the ongoing program can be found at

In 2024, the MRC continues to distribute educational materials to crabbers on an ad-hoc basis.

2017 - 2021 Recreational Crabbing Outreach

For years, after the derelict fishing gear removal project, the Clallam MRC focused on marine debris removal along the shores of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. In 2017, as part of the "Catch More Crab" program led by Snohomish MRC, the Clallam MRC started conducting educational outreach to recreational crabbers about how to correctly set your crab pot so not to lose it, and thereby catch more crab. Our goal is zero lost crab pots in Puget Sound and for everyone to have a successful day on the water. In the summers of 2017-19 Clallam MRC interns provided educational materials including gauges at local boat launches during the summer crabbing season. They also distributed the materials to retail stores selling crab licenses and gear. In 2019 Clallam MRC, in partnership with the Northwest Strait Foundation and local expert crabbers, held two workshops to inform recreational crabbers about state and tribal regulations and to share tricks of the trade about how not to lose crab pots and thereby catch more crabs. Similar efforts were planned for 2020 and 2021 but cancelled due to COVID-19. Instead, outreach was conducted on social media and by distributing educational outreach kits to local retail stores highlighting the advice below.

Tips and tricks to avoid losing your pot:

  • CHECK TIDES AND CURRENTS. Avoid crabbing during strong tidal changes and currents.
  • USE HIGH VISIBILITY BUOYS to clearly mark your gear.
  • USE A WEIGHTED LINE to sink below the surface and avoid being cut by passing boats.
  • WEIGHT YOUR POT so they do not move in high currents or tidal changes
  • USE LONGER LINE. Use 1/3 more line than water depth to allow for changes in tides and currents
  • SECURE LID AND ESCAPE PANELS WITH BIODEGRADABLE COTTON ESCAPE CORD. This allows crabs to escape from lost pots after the cord degrades.

In 2016 the Northwest Strait Foundation, supported by a large advisory committee, developed a prevention plan for lost crab pots in Puget Sound. The plan is available here.


Sequim workshop
Port Angeles workshop
2018 crabber outreach at Swains
Crab fishing boat
Derelict Fishing Gear Removal