BOOTHBAY HARBOR, Maine — Divers with marine nonprofit education and community organization OceansWide are searching Boothbay Harbor for ghost gear this week.
Ghost gear is what fishermen call lost or abandoned fishing equipment, rope and other related junk sitting on the ocean floor. It often consists of wire lobster traps that somehow got separated from their floating buoys above — either from foul weather or boat propellers cutting the line.
A typical Maine lobsterman expects to lose about 10 percent of their traps every year. With more than 4,000 licensed lobstermen fishing upward of 800 traps apiece, that adds up fast. Some estimate there are as many as 30,000 traps lost every year in local waters.
That scenario points to millions of ghost gear traps laying on the bottom of the Gulf of Maine.
OceansWide divers hope to put a dent in that number. Last year, they hauled more than 1,000 traps out of Boothbay Harbor, alone. They’re trying to double that number this year.