SPARROWS POINT, Md. — He’s up before dawn making his living on the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, but on this day, Captain Bob Wiley has set his sights on a different catch---wayward crab pots that litter the bay’s floor.
“We just come out and do the dirty work and we’re cleaning up the bay and making the resources better for everybody else,” said Wiley.
“Ghost pots” become death traps for fish, crabs and turtles for years after storms or boat propellers set them adrift, lodging at the bottom of the bay.
Money from developers is now funding a $125,000 grant from Baltimore County paying watermen to collect the pots, which kill more than an estimated three million crabs in the bay each year.
“I’ve been working for the county for 35 years and this is my favorite project that I’ve ever worked on in 35 years,” said County Environmental Protection Director David Lykens. “There’s nothing bad about this project. It’s a win-win for everybody.”
There are 13 boats with 13 separate crews on the water and using sonar they identified as many as 3,000 of the lost crab pots---all resting on the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay.
Over the next two weeks, the crews hope to clear a majority of the pots from a known hot spot for the state’s signature blue crabs, helping this year’s harvest and those who make their living off of the water in the process.
“Everybody knows Maryland is known for its seafood industry,” said Wiley. “and that’s what we’re trying to improve out here is the industry up here in this Upper Chesapeake.”