Global Science & Technology, Inc. (GST) won a new NOAA Sci-Tech task order for work within a NOAA division new to GST: the NOAA Marine Debris Division (MDD) of the National Ocean Service. The task order, Regional Impact Assessment of Derelict Fishing Gear (DFG) in the Chesapeake Bay, has commenced and is being performed by our partners Versar, Inc. Natural Resource Division (Columbia, MD); Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), College of William & Mary (Gloucester Point, VA); CSS-Dynamac (Fairfax, VA); and Mr. Ward Slacum, marine debris analysis subject matter expert. Winning this work in a new part of NOAA is strategically important for GST’s growth.
The Chesapeake Bay supports several important commercial fisheries that utilize a wide array of fishing gear, including oyster hand tong, crab pots, eel pots, ordinary clam tong, various types of gill nets, conch dredge, fyke nets, and purse seines. Derelict fishing gear refers to any discarded, lost, or abandoned fishing gear and is one of the main types of debris impacting marine environment today. This gear continues to fish and trap animals, entangle and potentially kill marine life, smother habitat, and act as a hazard to navigation. In addition to inducing mortality for marine species, derelict fishing gear has the potential to impact sensitive habitats including marshes, submerged aquatic vegetation, and oyster reefs.
During the past decade, our partners’ project investigators have been quantifying and modeling the ecological and economic impacts of derelict fishing gear in the Bay as well as other areas in the U.S. and U.S. territories. Not only was all of the existing data collected, analyzed, and published by these organizations, but they also possess additional high quality unpublished data that will enhance the study and aid in cost efficiencies. These data are highly relevant to the MDD program and include datasets obtained with funding from the NOAA Marine Debris Program.