By Founder and President Kurt Lieber
ODA volunteers are on the job even when they aren’t!
Two of our longtime volunteer divers must see traps in their sleep. Jeff Connor and Bob Walls have been removing ghost gear with ODA since 2009. They have helped remove so much of this abandoned gear that I have a feeling they dream about it.
When ODA can’t go out for some reason or another, Jeff and Bob hit the sand and go for beach dives near their houses. Luckily, they live near the Pacific Ocean and can get to some great locations easily.
Recently they’ve been diving around King Harbor, which is a major port for recreational boating in Redondo Beach. ODA has a lot of experience with harbors -- removing tens of thousands of pounds of debris! However, what these guys found is not the usual garbage we find in marinas...
They’ve been diving this area for years with no surprising discoveries, but recently they've been finding abandoned traps in the harbor. However, these are not commercial traps, they are traps that are set illegally by who knows who?
Jeff and Bob have removed seven of these traps recently and then sent me the pictures. The traps are baited and are catching lobsters. I reported their findings to one of the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DF&W) wardens. Because Redondo Beach is not in his jurisdiction, he called the warden who oversees the enforcement of Kings Harbor and sent him the pictures.
The next day after I reported it, I received a call that informed me that those traps are made for the recreational fishermen, but they can only be used for Dungeness crabs. And they can only be deployed in northern California.
These are really inexpensive to buy, and because they are so small, they’re easy to hide on a small boat or kayak. Whoever is deploying them is using clear water bottles and attaching them to the trap via a short line. So, the bottle floats at or near the surface as a kind of “marker”, but they’re extremely hard to see if you don’t know what you are looking for.
The DF&W warden who oversees Kings Harbor said that he has been receiving reports about these traps for at least the last year. They think the traps are being deployed by kayakers.
While Jeff and Bob have removed the traps that they come across, the culprits are still out there. They’re taking lobsters out of season AND using traps that’re illegal to use here in southern California.
Thanks, Jeff and Bob! If anyone else sees these traps, please let us know about it and we’ll report it to the wardens. Or you can call the DF&W hotline at: 888-334-2258. They want to catch these people as much as we want them to!
Remember: If you ever see marine debris, to use our handy online reporting form to get the information to us!