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A lost pot may catch, kill 75 crabs each year

On July 2, the summer crabbing season began in San Juan County.

The WSU Beach Watchers Program reminds crabbers that using a crab pot escape cord prevents needless waste of the crab resource. Volunteers are reaching out to all crabbers to hand out information about crab pot escape cords and to provide free samples of the cord.

State law requires crabbers to secure crab pot lids and escape panels with untreated, biodegradable, natural fiber cording no larger than 1/8-inch in diameter. This insures that lost or abandoned crab pots will not continue to trap and kill crabs and other marine animals for the life of the pot.

Shann Weston, program coordinator for the WSU Beach Watchers Program in San Juan County, explained to a group of volunteers that most, but not all, new crab pots come equipped with biodegradable cording.

“But over time, the original cord breaks down, and crabbers often unknowingly replace the natural fiber cord with a synthetic variety that can last for years underwater,” Weston said.

In the Northwest Straits, an estimated 372,000 crabs die each year in lost or abandoned pots. One derelict crab pot can kill an average of 75 crabs in a year. Natural fiber cord breaks down in a matter of weeks, allowing the escape panel to open and eliminating the danger of entrapment.

Call 378-4414, or visit www.escapecord.org .

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