The number of cells to be sampled in each waterbody was determined by a weighting method for both the relative numbers of fishing trips with hard-shell crab pots (averaging NCDMF (7) data for 2006-2008) and the relative combined area of marsh creek, estuarine edge, and ICW-margin habitats within each waterbody.
These estimates were consistent with the descriptions and images of crab pots after known soak times in North Carolina high-salinity (annual mean salinity=30) estuaries that were provided in the NCDMF (1) report.
We worked with the North Carolina Marine Patrol of the NCDMF to ensure that the 4 areas used for this study component were >5 km from state waters included in the NCDMF program for removing and disposing of lost and abandoned crab pots (Anthony and Knudsen (11)).
6 cm [point to point], the minimum size of mature females as defined in NCDMF (9); females also had to exhibit a rounded abdominal apron), 10 were dead, and 11 were of legal market size (males [greater than or equal to]12.
Regulations of a NCDMF crab pot clean-out program that began in 2003 require commercial crabbers to remove all pots from the water for a period of 2-3 weeks, and a crab potting moratorium occurs typically from late January to early February.
The dredge, 25 kg in weight and 1 m in width, was pulled behind a powerboat operated by NCDMF personnel with commercial oyster-dredging experience.
We thank Mike Marshall, Jeff French, and those many NCDMF people working on deck for initially creating experimental reefs to our specifications and for later applying the experimental dredge harvesting treatment.