Patcong Creek Foundation Wins Wildlife Grant to Remove “Ghost” Crab Pots

A clean-up at Patcong Creek will take place May 19. (Courtesy Patcong Creek Foundation)

The Patcong Creek Foundation in Somers Point has won a $3,500 Conserve Wildlife Matching Grant from the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife.

The grant will be used to remove derelict, or “ghost” crab pots from Patcong Creek. These abandoned or lost pots sit on the bottom of waterways and continue to attract wildlife, trapping them inside to die.

“Ghost crab pots are a constant problem,” said Patcong Creek Foundation Founder Ron Meischker. “This grant will help us clean the creek of them.”

Meischker has removed hundreds of pieces of derelict fishing equipment, ranging from small crab traps, crab pots and conch pots to an otter trawl net, that were found floating freely in the bay and surrounding rivers in the past decade.

Ghost pots have proved particularly dangerous to endangered aquatic species, such as the diamondback terrapin, which is known to inhabit Patcong Creek. Terrapin, crab, otter and other creatures often become new casualties of the disused crab pots.

Thousands of derelict pots have been identified via side scanning sonar, and 1,052 have been recovered from South Jersey waters thus far.

PCF Founder Ron Meischker, right, opening a ghost crab pot with a volunteer. (Courtesy PCF)