If it’s a new year, it’s time for the North Carolina Coastal Federation’s annual Lost Fishing Gear Recovery Project across the state’s coast.

This unique effort employs the state’s commercial fishermen to remove lost crab pots, which improves both the crab and other state fisheries. It also creates work for commercial fishermen during the no-potting period, when pots must be removed from the water due to fishing regulations.

Last year, 72 commercial fishermen received $400 per boat per day to cover more than 1.4 million acres state fishing waters and collect 4,304 crab pots along the entire coast — the biggest crab pot clean up since 2004. An associated shoreline cleanup effort enlisted 138 volunteers to remove more than 3.5 tons of marine debris from Hatteras Island in Dare County, Hoop Pole Creek in Carteret County and Morris Landing in Onslow County.

Thanks to funding provided by the North Carolina General Assembly, the 2018 clean up will begin later this month, with 76 commercial fishermen leading the charge. You can learn more about the program — and see a beautiful short video about it — on the federation’s website here.

You can also help! Shoreline cleanups are scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 13, at Kitty Hawk Woods in Dare County and the Morris Landing Clean Water Preserve in Holly Ridge, as well as on Jan. 20 at Hoop Pole Creek in Atlantic Beach. For more information, visit the events calendar or call at 252-393-8185.