GOULDSBORO — OceansWide is looking to expand its lobster trap recycling program after processing 6,000 pounds of wire traps since last summer at its site at the town’s transfer station. The Newcastle-based nonprofit, which teaches scuba diving and provides other hands-on marine experiences in the Gulf of Maine to Maine youth, is looking to set up similar stations in Jonesport, Vinalhaven and on Matinicus Island.
Last Sunday, Oceanswide’s founder and executive director Campbell “Buzz” Scott stopped by Traps 2 Treasure’s Walters Road station where lost, damaged and abandoned wire traps are stripped, crushed and readied every week by volunteers. Steuben’s Rowland’s Recycling disposes of the crushed traps as scrap metal. T2T, as the nonprofit’s trap recycling program is called, was conceived in 2018. On an outing aboard the Maine Seacoast Mission’s vessel Sunbeam, OceansWide’s dive students saw numerous ghost lobster traps cluttering the sea floor while operating a remotely operated vessel to comb the bottom.
As he fed stripped-down traps into the crusher, referred to as “lobster’s revenge,” Scott said T2T’s output would have been far greater by now had the COVID-19 pandemic not struck after the program had been launched. Sumner Memorial High School’s Marine Pathways students work at the Gouldsboro facility in exchange for earning community service credits toward graduation. The virus, however, has kept Pathways students from working together on site.
“We could have done 10 times that,” the mask-clad director said Sunday. He said T2T’s program director, Becky O’Keefe, and local volunteer Vicki Rae have done much of the work in recent months. He said more volunteers are needed on a weekly basis at the Gouldsboro facility. Work sessions are flexible and allow for people to go about their tasks spaced apart and at different times. Mask-wearing and social distancing are adhered to there.
Meanwhile, Scott reported that Lobster207, the Maine Lobstering Union Local 207’s wholesale co-op, has pledged at least $100,000 annually to support and expand T2T’s geographic scope by establishing additional processing sites to start with in Jonesport, Vinalhaven and on Matinicus Island. Like Gouldsboro, those communities boast robust lobster fleets and the towns’ schools would participate in the program. He said Lobster207 is required to set aside a portion of its sales revenue to nonprofits whose focus combines community, education and the environment.
Scott said T2T’s mission, involving the lobster industry and Maine youth in the recovery of traps from beaches, dooryards and the ocean floor ticks all the right boxes. He says Lobster207’s financial backing is the start of a long-term partnership. He says T2T is a unique program and doesn’t know of any current, comparable initiative on the Eastern Seaboard.
“That’s what we pride ourselves on, doing something that nobody has done before,” Scott said.
Meanwhile, at T2T’s Gouldsboro station, Scott, O’Keefe and Ray would welcome more volunteers to do the labor-intensive work of dismantling traps while the pandemic continues and removing the heads, funnel hoops, wooden runners, brick weights and other parts and pieces before they are crushed in the gas-powered machine fashioned from a wood splitter. To volunteer or for more info, call Scott at 620-6037, email [email protected] and visit oceanswide.org.