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April 28. 2013 12:24AM

Tons of lobster traps, fishing debris taken off beaches


About 60 commercial fishermen scoured the coastline for lobster traps and debris during their 20th annual cleanup day on Saturday. They collected four dumpsters of debris from Seabrook to north of Odiorne Point in Rye. (Gretyl Macalaster/Union Leader Correspondent)

RYE - Tangled masses of rope, battered buoys and the remains of literally tons of lobster traps were collected by commercial fishermen Saturday during their 20th annual shoreline cleanup day.

Fishermen say they participate to do their part to keep the beaches clean.

Licensed lobstermen and conservation officers are also the only ones permitted by law to handle or pick up traps.

Starting at 7:30 a.m., more than 60 fishermen and their families descended on beaches from Seabrook to north of Odiorne Point in Rye, collecting truckloads of debris and hauling it back to Rye and Hampton harbors.

When all was said and done, more than three large trash bins were overflowing with debris, leading Doug Grout, chief of the Marine Division of New Hampshire Fish and Game, to call in a fourth.

He said the previous record for debris collected was 25 tons, and he expected this year's collection would exceed that, given the many winter storms that battered the coastline.

The event is a partnership between the New Hampshire Commercial Fishermen's Association, New Hampshire Fish and Game, the New Hampshire Port Authority and the Sea Grant program, which provides funding.

Redhook Brewery provided a bit of incentive at the end of the day by offering samples of its new Black Lobstah Lager, a limited-batch brew made with New Hampshire lobsters.

"It is a great community effort," said lobsterman James Murray of Rye.

Andrew Widen, lobsterman and owner of Ray's Seafood, said most of the debris went into the bins, estimating the value of the unsalvageable gear at more than $100,000.

Former deckhand Jacob Hoag, 16, a sophomore at Winnacunnet High School, helped provide burgers and hot dogs for the fishermen after a long morning of hauling gear. In years past, he said, he has enjoyed the hard work of collecting the debris.

"I've always loved doing it, climbing on the rocks, hauling stuff up," Hoag said.

gmacalaster@newstote.com



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