Mid-Atlantic Sea Grants launch campaign to encourage proper bait disposal
A new campaign seeks to prevent the arrival of invasive species by asking fishermen to avoid disposing leftover bait in the ocean.
The Delaware Sea Grant, along with other Mid-Atlantic Sea Grants, have launched a campaign to raise awareness among fishermen about the potential consequences of dumping extra bait in the ocean.
Local fisherman typically use live marine bloodworms, which are harvested in Maine and packaged in a kind of seaweed called wormweed. That wormweed is helpful in maintaining moisture and keeping the bloodworms separate, but it can contain a number of non-native critters. Altogether, worms and other organisms in the bait can be vectors that draw invasive species to the Mid-Atlantic.
John Ewart, aquaculture specialist at the Delaware Sea Grant, says keeping these invasive species away can be avoided if fishermen just throw the extra bait in the trash.
“By taking a simple step of throwing your seaweed and your unused worms in the trash
along with the plastic bag they’re in, you could go a long way towards cutting off that as a potential vector for invasive species," said Ewart.
Ewart has been educating fishermen by visiting bait shops and popular fishing spots.
“Not everyone, but a good number of people think the seaweed and the worms come from the ocean, so when they’re done, they just toss them overboard," said Ewart.
Ewart says that the fishing community has been generally very supportive of the campaign and he’s delivered about a thousand bait awareness stickers to bait shops in Sussex County. In addition to expanding their outreach in the state, the Sea Grant partners will continue to do research to better understand the bait worm trade.