January 21, 1998

For more information contact:
Paul Scarlett at 609-748-2020

According to the State Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife, the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council recently approved regulations requiring that all commercial style crab pots set in any body of water less than 150-feet wide at low tide or in any man-made lagoon MUST include diamondback terrapin turtle excluder devices. In addition, all commercial style crab pots set in any body of water must include biodegradable panels.

"The use of terrapin excluder devices and biodegradable panels on commercial style crab pots will help reduce the unnecessary drowning of terrapins and allow for these and other marine species to escape should the traps be lost or abandoned," said Division Director Bob McDowell. "The new regulations will apply to both commercial and recreational users of these pots."

Terrapin excluder devices must be rectangular or diamond-shaped and no larger than two inches high by six inches wide. The device must be securely fastened inside the funnel entrance to reduce the opening to no larger than the above size.

Biodegradable panels must be oval or rectangular-shaped, measure at least eight inches wide by five inches high, be located in the upper section of the crab pot, and remain in position to allow for the eventual and unobstructed escape of crabs and other marine organisms should the crab pot be lost or abandoned. The panel may be constructed of, or fastened to the pot, with one of the following materials: wood lath, cotton hemp, sisal or jute twine not greater than 3/16-inch in diameter, or non-stainless, uncoated ferrous metal not greater than 3/32-inch in diameter. The door or a side panel of the pot may serve as the biodegradable panel ONLY if it is fastened to the pot with any of the material specified above.

Regulations are currently being proposed to modify the size of the biodegradable panel to at least six and one-half inches wide by five inches high. This modification would allow for the use of a currently manufactured buoyant panel. The regulatory proposal also includes a provision that would make it illegal to possess a commercial style crab pot that does not meet the biodegradable panel criteria.

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