Last updated: May 15, 2017
Derelict Trap and Debris Removal
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Transcript( music playing ) Hi! Welcome to Biscayne National Park! My name is Justin Martens and I’m a Biological Science Technician in the park’s Damage Recovery Program, in the Division of Resource Management. This short film is about the Biscayne National Park Derelict Trap Removal Program, an important project that helps restore our coral reefs in the park by removing lost fishing gear and debris. ( music playing ) Biscayne National Park encompasses some of the richest spiny lobster habitat in South Florida. As a result, a thriving commercial lobster fishery operates within the park boundaries. Commercial lobster fishing in Biscayne National Park is regulated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Lobstering is only allowed offshore of the eastern Keys in the Park West of the Keys. The Biscayne Bay-Card Sound Lobster Sanctuary is a refuge and breeding habitat, where lobster take is prohibited year-round. Lobster traps are set close to coral reefs to capture lobster as they move across sand patches and seagrass between reefs. Commonly, lobster fisherman will string together a number of traps and mark the beginning and the end of the trap line with a buoy. Lobster traps and lines can damage coral reef resources. Lobster traps are lost for a variety of reasons. Trap lines can be cut by boats running over them. Lines may also be broken, and traps crushed, in severe storms. Once traps are lost, they may sit on the seafloor bottom for a long time. ( somber music playing ) Both the traps and the lines associated with the traps can do a lot of damage. Traps moving around the seafloor can damage corals, other fragile reef organisms, and even cultural resources such as shipwrecks. The trap line can become entangled in the reef. Lost traps, also known as “ghost” traps, continue to capture fish, crabs, and lobsters, which have no way to escape, and die. ( somber music playing ) This material is also an unwelcome sight for park visitors who are snorkeling and diving on the reefs. Unfortunately, coral reefs in Biscayne National Park are littered with derelict traps, trap line, and other debris. In response to this threat to park reefs, Biscayne National Park began a Derelict Trap Removal Program in 2007. The goal of the Program is to restore reef resources and improve the visitor experience by removing traps and debris from park reefs. ( somber music ) ( somber music ends - new upbeat music begins ) Today we are going to follow the clean-up crew to take an in-depth look at the Derelict Trap Removal Program. The day begins with launching and fueling up boats, reviewing the plan for the day, and getting underway. After a quick trip from the dock to the coral reefs in Biscayne National Park, Park personnel and contract workers get ready to start the trap removal process. Contract workers don SCUBA gear and get in the water. Once divers are in the water, tow lines are thrown to them, and the boat slowly takes off, towing the divers behind. As the boat slowly chugs along, the divers scan the bottom for traps, line, and other debris. When the divers see something, they let go of the tow rope, which signals the captain to stop the boat. The divers descend to the bottom to collect the traps, debris, and line. As the divers carefully collect the debris, the boat waits above. If a trap is found, sometimes divers will use a lift bag to help them bring the trap to the surface. ( upbeat music playing ) If there is trap line on the bottom, divers have to carefully remove the line from delicate corals, so as not to cause any more damage. Once the debris has been removed, divers grab the tow lines again and the boat starts up again to continue the search. ( upbeat music continues ) Each time the divers come up with traps and debris, workers on deck, sort, measure, and count it. This helps workers keep track of the total amount of debris removed from the coral reefs each day. Live lobsters, crabs, or fish that are caught in the traps are released immediately. At the end of the day, with a boat fully loaded with traps, line, and other debris, the team heads back to the dock to offload and clean up. The boat is pulled out of the water. All of the materials are accounted for, and transferred to dumpsters for landfill disposal. ( upbeat music continues ) This Program provides great benefit to park resources and visitors alike. For every reef area that is cleaned up, the strangled and smothered reef resources begin to recover right away. The reef is returned to a more natural state. The risk of future damage to the reef and to cultural resources is reduced. And, coral reefs freed from visual pollution can be better enjoyed by park visitors. Please remember - special authorization is required to remove derelict traps from Florida waters, and tampering with traps, trap contents, lines or buoys is against the law. Thank you for watching, and I hope you learned more about how Biscayne National Park is addressing the threats faced by coral reefs from derelict traps and fishing gear. Follow these links to learn more about Biscayne National Park and derelict trap removal in Florida. ( upbeat music playing ) ( music ends )
Taking Out the Trash - Derelict Trap and Debris Removal in Biscayne National Park. Hosted by Justin Martens.