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ERDG Completes Phase I of its Bait Bag Initiative

October 19, 1999

Bait Bags and Alternative Bait

Earlier this month, at an alternative bait workshop hosted by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), ERDG offered to manufacture and distribute a particular type of bait bag being successfully used by Frank Eicherly IV a Milford, Delaware, conch fisherman. Conch fishermen indicate that the use of bait bags could reduce the demand for horseshoe crabs for bait by as much as 50 percent. Fewer crabs are required when bait bags are used (versus traditional methods), and the bags extend the effective fishing time of the bait by preventing bait loss to non-target species. The Ecological Research & Development Group (ERDG), in partnership with the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences (VIMS) Sea Grant program and Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) has manufactured 500 bait bags and distributed them to Virginia fishermen.

The use of these bags will be part of a controlled study conducted by a VIMS researcher who is experimenting with the use of bait bags and alternative bait. The goal of the research is to measure the bags effectiveness in contrast to tradition gear and to discover a method of combining surf clam waste and other by-catch into a suitable matrix for conch bait. Next year ERDG will implement Phase II of its bait bag initiative, providing bait bags to conch fishermen in the states of Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey free of charge.

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