Old lobster trap traps are a danger to boats, people, and marine life.

Old lobster trap traps are a danger to boats, people, and marine life. (Courtesy photo)

Volunteers from Santa Barbara Channelkeeper and members of the commercial fishing community will remove derelict lobster traps from the sand along Santa Barbara’s coastline on Saturday, June 19.

Channelkeeper invites the public to join in the Lobster Trap Cleanup event, 9 a.m.-11:30 p.m., starting at Ellwood Beach and moving north toward Haskell’s Beach. Volunteers will dig out partially buried traps and prepare them to be loaded onto a commercial fishing vessel for proper disposal.

Volunteers should bring work gloves, sunhats and water, and wear long-sleeves, pants and closed-toe shoes since lobster traps can be challenging to dislodge. To sign up, visit https://www.sbck.org/brigade/watershed-brigade-event/.
In May, the organization launched a Watershed Brigade initiative to mobilize community volunteers to clear marine debris from local beaches. Last month, Watershed Brigade volunteers surveyed the coast for derelict lobster traps and identified 44 traps along the coastline.

Channelkeeper reviewed the data and determined the highest concentration of traps (38) is on the stretch of sand between Haskell’s and Ellwood beaches. The organization plans to remove as many of those traps as possible during the cleanup event.

Derelict lobster traps are a serious environmental problem globally and locally. Each winter, storms that bring heavy swells dislodge traps. While in the ocean, ghost traps can continue to trap wildlife.

As ghost traps drift, they can entangle marine organisms, release microplastics, and pose safety hazards to vessels and beachgoers. Ultimately, the traps wash up on local beaches as pollution.

The U.S. Department of Fish & Wildlife (DFW) calls marine debris “one of the most pervasive threats to the health of the world’s coastal areas, oceans, and waterways.”

“Derelict fishing gear can injure or kill marine and coastal wildlife, damage and degrade habitats, interfere with navigational safety, cause economic loss to fishing and maritime industries, and threaten human health and safety,” DFW states.

“Our Watershed Brigade was designed for exactly this kind of project,” said Ben Pitterle, Channelkeeper’s interim executive director. “Our community is full of individuals who want to make a difference and help keep our beaches, creeks, and backcountry free of litter.

“By working together, we can help remove thousands of pounds of derelict fishing gear that would otherwise have persisted on this beach for years and years.”

For more about Santa Barbara Channelkeeper, visit www.sbck.org.