Repowered NRG Energy Center Dover Unveiled; Gov. Markell, Congressional Delegation, DNREC Sec. O’Mara, other officials join with NRG to announce cleaner natural gas facility

DOVER (July 26, 2013) Governor Jack Markell, along with U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons, U.S. Congressman John Carney, DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara and other officials joined with NRG East Region President Lee Davis to celebrate the newly repowered NRG Energy Center Dover, one of the cleanest power plants in the nation. 

NRG worked for a year to convert the coal-fueled plant to a much cleaner, more efficient combined-cycle natural gas facility. To assist with the costs of repowering the facility, NRG received a grant from the Delaware Energy Efficiency Investment Fund, which helps local businesses make strategic capital equipment investments that reduce operating costs and support job creation, while reducing energy consumption and improving environmental performance.

 “The repowering of NRG Energy Center Dover represents another important milestone in Delaware’s efforts to have the cleanest, cheapest and most reliable energy in the nation,” said Governor Markell. “NRG’s investment in cleaner natural gas technology provides significant air quality benefits for our citizens and improves the economic competitiveness of Kent County. NRG is to be recognized for reducing air emissions and contributing to Delaware’s goal of a clean energy economy.”

 “Today’s air quality and energy efficiency improvement announcement at NRG’s Energy Center Dover is welcome news for Delaware,” said Senator Carper. “We do not have to choose between having a cleaner, stronger environment and having a robust, growing economy. It is possible to have both, and protect public health and jumpstart new industries in the process.” 

“Converting our power generation to cleaner, more efficient sources is the best way to help our nation lower energy costs, reduce harmful emissions, and increase our energy independence,” Senator Coons said. “NRG Energy Center Dover is an excellent example of the advancements possible when the government and private sector work together to modernize our energy production. Residents of Central Delaware will immediately enjoy the benefits of NRG’s efforts to improve air quality and efficiency, and I am hopeful that this type of investment will be replicated by more energy companies nationwide.”  

“This project marks another important step in Delaware’s transition to a cleaner energy economy,” said Congressman Carney. “NRG’s investment in its Dover facility will allow businesses in Delaware to take advantage of lower cost energy to expand, create jobs and compete in a global marketplace.  The project will also lead to significant, long-term improvements in Delaware’s air quality. I applaud NRG for making this commitment in our state and encourage other facilities in the area to make similar changes.” 

“Today is a big day for Kent County,” said Secretary O’Mara. “NRG deserves recognition for investing in significant upgrades that will help reduce energy bills, while significantly reducing air emissions and contributing to the State’s goal of improving the health of all Delawareans.”

 NRG Energy Center Dover, a wholly owned subsidiary of NRG Thermal LLC, is a combined heat and power facility. Prior to the repowering project, the plant featured one co-generation, coal-fueled 16 Megawatts (MW) steam turbine and two, simple-cycle 44 MW natural-gas combustion turbines. Its electricity was transmitted to the PJM market, part of the Eastern interconnection grid operating an electric transmission system serving Delaware and 12 other states as well as the District of Columbia.  The steam was sold to local manufacturers Kraft Foods and Proctor and Gamble for their process and space conditioning needs.

 NRG took an innovative approach to repowering the facility by taking one of the existing gas turbines and adding a heat recovery steam generator and reusing the existing 16MW steam turbine to create a combined cycle power plant. The existing coal equipment was then permanently retired. The improvements created 75 construction jobs over the course of the year.

 The combined cycle unit utilizes two types of turbines – a gas turbine and an adjacent steam turbine. First, natural gas is ignited in a combustion chamber, creating heated gas that exhausts into a turbine, turning its blades. The turbine is connected by a shaft to a generator, producing electricity. This is the first cycle. Hot exhaust gases leaving the turbine are then passed through a heat recovery steam generator. The steam is piped into a steam turbine, turning another set of blades that is connected to a separate generator, making additional electricity. This is the second cycle.  Some of the steam is used for heating, which is referred to as “co-generation.” 

After DNREC’s Division of Air Quality issued the facility’s new operating permit, commercial operations began in June with a combined-cycle package of 62 MW and a combustion turbine peaker unit of 44 MW. The plant will continue to serve the PJM market and co-generate steam for Kraft and Proctor and Gamble. The combined cycle unit preserved 16 MW of energy generation from obsolescence and improved fuel efficiency by 30 percent per unit of energy delivered. 

The conversion reduces annual air emissions by more than 4 million pounds of sulfur dioxide (SO2), 800,000 pounds of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and 120,000 pounds of particulate matter. This results in reductions of 99 percent of SO2 and 92 percent of NOx emissions – two air pollutants that can cause serious respiratory conditions – and more than 65 percent of the stack particulate emissions. In addition, 117,000 pounds of hydrochloric and sulfuric acid, 14 million pounds of fly ash and bottom ash, and virtually all mercury and lead emissions produced from coal combustion have been eliminated  These improvements will remove the NRG Energy Center Dover from Delaware’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) report entirely.

According to Lee Davis, President of NRG’s East Region, “We’re pleased to welcome Governor Markell, Senators Carper and Coons, Representative Carney and Secretary O’Mara here to inaugurate our repowered Dover Thermal plant. Along with significant environmental investments at our Indian River Generating Station, this project demonstrates NRG’s commitment to the State of Delaware and to operate our generation assets as cleanly and efficiently as possible.”

Several years ago NRG began an air quality improvement program at the Indian River Generating Station, which has resulted in significant emissions reductions at the plant. First, NRG closed down two coal units, one in 2010 and another in 2011. The company invested $360 million in environmental controls on unit 4, in addition to previous investments of approximately $50 million in controls on both units 3 and 4. Lastly, the company will shut down unit 3 at the end of 2013.  Taken all together, these steps will make Indian River Generating Station one of the cleanest coal plants in the country

Contact: Melanie Rapp, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902 

Vol. 43, No. 295

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National Mosquito Control Awareness Week June 23-29: DNREC Mosquito Control Section urges: Do your part in helping keep mosquito populations down in Delaware

DOVER (June 21, 2013) – As if the great numbers of mosquitoes expected to hatch from recent heavy rainfall in Delaware weren’t enough of a reminder, the American Mosquito Control Association has declared the week of June 23-29 as the 17th annual National Mosquito Control Awareness Week.

In observance of the event, Delaware’s Mosquito Control Section is encouraging Delawareans to take precautions to avoid or reduce mosquito bites, and to put particular emphasis on eliminating backyard mosquito-producing habitat. “As a sustaining member of the American Mosquito Control Association, the Delaware Mosquito Control Section joins with our AMCA colleagues around the country in pointing to all our good labors for making modern life as mosquito-free as possible, or at least tolerable compared to horrendous infestation conditions from past eras,” said Dr. William Meredith, DNREC Mosquito Control Section administrator and past president of the AMCA. “But we can’t achieve all of this on our own, so we urge property owners to help us – and help themselves, too – by practicing good water sanitation on their lands.”

With the large amounts of rain the state has received this month, there are plenty of natural sources for mosquitoes, and Mosquito Control Section staff is working hard to control the large numbers of mosquitoes that may emerge from these natural habitats. However, staying on top of the many artificial habitats and sources of standing water requires the help of homeowners throughout the state. The best medicine for mosquitoes is prevention, and it’s easy to make a difference in your community by eliminating as much standing water from your yard and from artificial containers on your property as possible and encouraging your neighbors to do the same.

The growing population of Asian tiger mosquitoes is of particular concern with artificial container habitats. The Asian tiger mosquito is an aggressive, daytime biter distinguished by its white stripes on a black body. Asian tiger mosquitoes lay eggs and hatch from tarps, flower pots, boats, tires, rain gutters, corrugated pipes (especially ones connected to downspouts) – anything around your yard that can collect water. These nuisance mosquitoes don’t fly more than several hundred yards from where they are born, so that means that if you have this type, the source is very likely your yard or one of your immediate neighbors. Removal of even the smallest amounts of standing water in artificial containers from your property will help reduce or eliminate these mosquitoes from your area. 

If you can’t eliminate the mosquitoes from your area, remember to protect yourself from mosquito bites by avoiding outdoor activities during peak mosquito times (dusk to dawn), wearing long sleeves and long pants, and/or properly using mosquito repellent. 

Also: To help the Mosquito Control Section determine when and where to provide control services, please report intolerable numbers of biting mosquitoes as follows:

  • New Castle County and northern Kent County from Dover north, call Mosquito Control’s Glasgow office at 302-836-2555
  • Remainder of southern Kent County and all of Sussex County, call Mosquito Control’s Milford office at 302-422-1512

For more information on Delaware Mosquito Control, or to request mosquito control service, residents of New Castle County and northern Kent County, including Dover, Little Creek, Kitts Hummock, and Hartly, can call the Glasgow Office at 302-836-2555. Residents of Sussex County and southern Kent County including, Marydel, Camden-Wyoming, and Magnolia, can call the Milford Office at 302-422-1512. 

Advance public notice of when and where spraying will occur is given daily via radio announcements, by calling 800-338-8181 toll-free, or by visiting http://www.dnrec.delaware.gov/fw/Services/Pages/MosquitoSection.aspx. Interested parties may also subscribe to receive email notices by visiting the DNREC homepage – click on “Email List Subscription” under Services and follow directions to sign up for mosquito control spray announcements. 

For more information about Delaware’s Mosquito Control program, call 302-739-9917.

 Vol. 43, No. 255

 Contact: Michael Globetti, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

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Bridge-nesting peregrine falcon fledglings take a tumble but get helping hands toward survival

USFWS biologist Craig Koppie returns two rescued peregrine falcons to their nest atop the St. Georges BridgeST. GEORGES (June 18, 2013) – A winning combination of citizen awareness, DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife Enforcement, Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research, and the US Fish & Wildlife Service collaborated recently to rescue and subsequently return a pair of juvenile peregrine falcons to their nesting location on the St. Georges Bridge over the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal after the birds had “crash-landed” on the bridge’s roadway while attempting their first flight.

Known as the world’s fastest bird, peregrine falcons have nested in Delaware since the late 1980s when they were carefully reintroduced to the eastern United States as the population rebounded from a federally endangered species listing. Due to the pesticide DDT, the entire eastern population had completely disappeared and recovery was uncertain. Delaware was not an obvious place for bringing them back, as the landscape lacks any naturally-occurring cliffs, the peregrines’ preferred habitat. However, the state boasts several large and high bridges that the falcons find as a surrogate for cliffs. The first nesting pair was on the Delaware Memorial Bridge, and over the past three decades, falcons have also taken up residence on the Summit, St. Georges, and Reedy Point Bridges over the C&D Canal. 

Three years ago, the Division of Fish & Wildlife began monitoring a new pair of peregrines atop the St. Georges Bridge. The steel truss bridge serves well as nesting location, or aerie, but it also can be a perilous place for juvenile falcons as they prepare to make their first flights. With their nest scrape high in the arches of the bridge, young birds have fallen into the C&D Canal or landed on the deck of the bridge, often resulting in mortality.The two rescued falcons are safely returned to the catwalk during a successful release atop the St. Georges Bridge.

Twice this month, two fledglings leaving the St. Georges Bridge nest for the first time might have met with such misfortune. Instead, quick thinking by citizens who saw and reported the falcons on the deck and roadbed of the bridge – amidst passing traffic – triggered a quick response from Division of Fish & Wildlife Enforcement agents who rescued the falcons and transported them to the nationally-renowned Tri-State Bird Rescue in Newark. 

After thorough examination and a few days of observation, Tri-State Bird Rescue reported that both falcons were in great condition and ready to be returned to their nest. On Wednesday, June 12, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service raptor biologist Craig Koppie attempted to reintroduce the two juveniles, both females, to their parents.  

With the actual nest site a precarious perch inaccessible to humans, Mr. Koppie elected to place the falcons on the catwalk of the bridge, giving them a safer venue for continuing to exercise their wings and to make short flights. “Returning the young to the nest at this age is often difficult and requires a plan so the release will not end up in the same manner – with birds falling to the ground again,” he said. “To minimize risk of the birds immediately taking flight before they’re ready, I immersed the young falcons in water to soak their body and flight feathers. This makes the fledglings heavy and wet, and they will not have the desire to bolt once released. I also placed food (quail) along the catwalk before taking them to the top of the bridge so the young falcons would concentrate on eating while they were drying off.” 

As he scaled the bridge to release the juveniles, the adult falcons recognized their offspring from on high and became aggressive toward him; Mr. Koppie took this behavior as an excellent sign that the young birds were still being defended by their parents, and that the adults would continue to attend to their offspring’s needs. 

Thus, a successful release, and it seemed that all was well with the young falcons – with a little luck they would be airborne again in a day or two, this time for good. However, heavy thunderstorms were forecast over the next few days and strong winds could have dashed hopes for the falcons’ survival. Division of Fish & Wildlife biologist Anthony Gonzon was determined to monitor the birds in the storms’ aftermath. Arriving at St. Georges Bridge in the early morning Friday, June 14, he immediately located one of the adult peregrines on the catwalk beneath the bridge. Panning across the arches, he spotted one of the juveniles, a poignant sighting, Mr. Gonzon recalled: “At the very least, one of the young birds had survived the storms, and better yet, it could fly!” 

Gonzon spent more time combing the horizon for the second juvenile rescue. During that time, the other adult falcon flew in with food for the first juvenile and tried to coax it off the crossbeam of the arch where it was first observed. The young bird made a couple of attempts to take flight, but elected to stay put and wait for the adult to deliver its food. When the adult landed, the young falcon quickly ran to it, stole the carcass of a bird away and made a fast break for cover. 

“But there was still no sign of the second juvenile,” Mr. Gonzon recalled. Time and circumstances conspired against a sighting when, suddenly, on the north bank of the canal, he saw both adult falcons, clearly agitated and diving at some unseen threat. “A quick look through a spotting scope and there it was – the second peregrine fledgling! The parents obviously had been protecting her. Although she still had a little down on her head, she could fly, and fly well enough to perch on a dead tree along the canal.” The peregrine parents successfully drove off whatever threat they had detected, and the young bird flew back to the catwalk under the bridge, capping a restoration success. And evidence, according to Mr. Gonzon, “that Delaware’s peregrine falcon population had grown by two!” 

“We work hard to reunite young birds of prey with their parents or a foster family whenever we can,” said Lisa Smith, executive director of Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research. “Young birds of prey have so much to learn from the adults – how to hunt, how to behave socially, where to roost, etc. We are delighted that these two falcons can continue to grow up in the wild.”

Photo credits: Top, Russ Carlson. Bottom: USFWS/Craig Koppie.

Contact: Michael Globetti, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 43, No. 250

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DNREC Fish & Wildlife Enforcement Blotter: June 4-11; Reminder for the week: Visitors to C&D Canal Conservation Area reminded to heed signs

DOVER (June 14, 2013) – To achieve public compliance through education and enforcement actions that help conserve Delaware’s fish and wildlife resources and ensure safe boating and public safety, DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife Enforcement agents between June 4 and 11 made 1,649 contacts with anglers, hunters, boaters and the general public, including 83 boating safety/fishing regulation compliance checks. Agents responded to 38 complaints and issued 39 citations, 17 of which were associated with increased Fish and Wildlife Enforcement presence at the C&D Canal Conservation Area (formerly the C&D Canal Wildlife Area) and the associated recreational trail currently under construction. Incidents of particular note included: 

  • On June 10, in connection with a May 31 incident at the Woodland Beach Wildlife Area, agents arrested Robert B. Logan, 21, of Townsend, and charged him with felony disregarding command of a police officer, reckless endangering, resisting arrest, driving with a suspended or revoked license, leaving the scene of a collision resulting in injury, failure to report a collision resulting in injury, aggressive driving, operating a motor vehicle at unreasonable speed, failure to yield right of way, failure to signal intention, and trespassing after hours in a state wildlife area. Logan was arraigned in the Kent County Court of Common Pleas, entered a not guilty plea and was released on $4,500 unsecured bond pending trial at a later date.
     
  • On June 10, Harry Harp, 83, of Millsboro, was cited for checking more than two recreational crab pots in Herring Creek. Under Delaware law, recreational crabbers are permitted to tend no more than two crab pots. 
  • On June 3 and June 8 at the St. George’s Bridge, agents rescued two immature peregrine falcons and transported them to Tri-State Bird Rescue in Newark. Tri-State reported that both birds were successfully returned to their nest.

Citations issued by violation type included the following, with the number of charges in parentheses:

Wildlife Conservation: Operating a motor vehicle off an established roadway in a state wildlife area (6)*, operating a motor vehicle in a closed area in a state wildlife area (7)*, driving without a license (1)*, and damaging state property (1)*, New Castle County; Trespassing after hours in a state wildlife area (1), Kent County.

Fisheries Conservation: Recreational: Unlicensed fishing (1), and possession of undersized Atlantic croaker (1), Kent County; Possession of undersized blue crab (2), tending more than two recreational crab pots (1), and possession of undersized summer flounder (2), Sussex County.

Boating Safety: Operating a vessel with insufficient number of life jackets aboard (1), Kent County; No life jacket on child age 12 or younger as required by law (1), and operating an unregistered motor vessel (1), Sussex County.

Public Safety: Operating an unlicensed motor vehicle in a state wildlife area (1)*, and loitering to engage or solicit another to engage in sex (1)*, New Castle County; Criminal impersonation (1), felony disregarding command of a police officer (1), reckless endangering (1), resisting arrest (1), driving with a suspended or revoked license (1), leaving the scene of a collision resulting in injury (1), failure to report a collision resulting in injury (1), aggressive driving (1), operating a motor vehicle at unreasonable speed (1), failure to yield right of way (1), and failure to signal intention (1), Kent County.

*These citations were issued in connection with violations at the C&D Canal Conservation Area.

 Are you AWARE?

With 17 citations issued at the C&D Canal Conservation Area this week, the Division of Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Section reminds visitors to be patient and comply with new rules and posted signage – some of which are temporary – while construction on the new Michael N. Castle Trail proceeds. To ensure public safety, agents are strictly enforcing regulations prohibiting motor vehicle access to the trail and encouraging visitors to park in designated areas and walk. 

Designed primarily for walking, jogging, bicycling, and horseback riding, the Michael N. Castle Trail has been in the planning phase for more than seven years, during which numerous public comment sessions were held regarding its design and location. 

New permanent gates have been installed to restrict motor vehicle access to the completed portions of the trail. Gates on the north side of the canal are currently closed, restricting access to the lower tier road from the eastern-most point near the Branch Canal at Delaware City through and including the Summit Marina area. 

Until construction activities are complete, access on the upper tier roads between the Gunning Bedford School and Summit Marina will also be restricted limiting access to the ponds near the railroad bridge. Once construction is complete, vehicles will still be permitted to access most upper level roads for hunting and fishing activities. 

The 5,100-acre C&D Canal Conservation Area near St. Georges encompasses the north and south banks of the canal and part of the eastern shoreline of the Delaware River. The conservation area also offers hunting and fishing opportunities, boating access, and the Summit Retriever Training Area. 

The DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife recognizes and thanks the majority of anglers, hunters and boaters who comply with and support Delaware’s fishing, hunting and boating laws and regulations. Citizens are encouraged to report fish and wildlife and boating violations to the Delaware Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Section by calling 302-739-4580. Wildlife violations may also be reported anonymously to Operation Game Theft by calling 800-292-3030 or online at www.dnrec.delaware.gov/fw/Hunting/Pages/OpGameTheft.aspx .

Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 43, No. 246

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New artificial bait developed by U of D from project funded by DNREC could reduce number of horseshoe crabs used to catch eel and whelk

LEWES (May 29, 2013) – A new alternative bait product that will help reduce the number of horseshoe crabs harvested from the Delaware Bay was introduced today. A team of University of Delaware researchers led by Dr. Nancy Targett, DuPont scientists, fisheries biologists, watermen and conservation groups were joined by DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara to make the announcement this morning at UD’s Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes. 

For years, commercial eel and whelk fishers have dealt with a dilemma: They know the best bait to attract eel and whelk, locally known as conch, is a female horseshoe crab. However, harvest limits are in place to protect the Delaware Bay’s horseshoe crab population and the threatened migratory shorebirds that depend on their eggs as a food source. Commercial fishers have long worked within these limits, dividing each bait crab into pieces to bait multiple eel or whelk pots. 

“Horseshoe crabs are an ecologically and economically important species in the Delaware Estuary, which hosts the largest concentrations of horseshoe crabs in the world,” said Governor Jack Markell. “This alternative bait is the result of a great partnership among academic researchers, scientists, government, a private corporation and the commercial fisheries industry. By working together, they have found a solution that has great economic and environmental benefits, both now and for the future of bait development.” 

“Conserving and restoring horseshoe crab populations is critical to supporting Delaware’s shorebird migration and implementing the vision of the Delaware Bayshore Initiative,” said DNREC Secretary O’Mara. “By using this new bait developed by leading scientists at the University of Delaware in partnership with DNREC, watermen will be able to reduce the number of horseshoe crabs used to catch whelk and eel, enjoy more convenient bait storage, help conserve the horseshoe crab population, and support migratory birds that depend on horseshoe crab eggs for food. I applaud my predecessor, Secretary John Hughes, and Dean Nancy Targett for their vision to launch this innovative effort, which will provide a win-win for both the economy and the environment for years to come.”

The new bait came after years of research, which was spurred in part by a surprising fact: Eel and whelk do not typically feed on adult horseshoe crabs in their natural environment, yet they find them hard to resist in baited pots. 

That disconnect intrigued Targett, director of Delaware Sea Grant, dean of UD’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment and an ecologist who studies the chemical cues that influence animal behavior in the sea. She and her research team set out to identify the mysterious “scent” that lures in eels – and come up with a bait alternative to horseshoe crabs, which have experienced population declines in recent decades. 

After years of research, Targett and her colleagues have developed a recipe for just such an artificial attractor that could help reduce the number of horseshoe crabs commercial fishermen use.

“Our hope is that this new bait will meet the fishing community’s needs and at the same time protect the horseshoe crab,” Targett said. “Delaware Sea Grant’s motto is ‘Science Serving the Delaware Coast,’ and we are grateful that so many partners shared in that spirit to move this project forward.”

Horseshoe crabs – which are actually more closely related to spiders than crabs – feed upon marine worms and small shellfish, and are fed upon by the federally threatened loggerhead sea turtle and a number of shark species. Their outer shells often support a whole community of marine life, from bacteria to blue mussels. Horseshoe crab eggs are a key part of the seasonal diet of at least seven commercially and recreationally important fish species and a host of crabs and other invertebrates. 

Each May and June, horseshoe crabs lay large numbers of these small green eggs on Delaware Bay beaches. Migratory shorebirds, such as the endangered red knot, arrive around the same time to feast on surplus eggs before continuing their long journey from South America to their Arctic breeding grounds. In about two weeks, the birds double their weight for the final non-stop leg of the trip. 

As horseshoe crab populations dropped considerably in the 1990s, so did the numbers of red knots. With the horseshoe crab decline largely attributed to their increased demand as bait in the commercial whelk pot fishery, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) established a fisheries management plan with strict harvest quotas. Since the plan was adopted, increases have been noted in segments of the horseshoe crab population. Currently, the ASMFC plan allows for harvesting a limited number of male horseshoe crabs and no harvest of female crabs in Delaware.  

With whelk as a popular seafood staple in Asia and an ingredient used domestically in chowders and fritters, demand for horseshoe crabs as bait continues to be high, particularly for female crabs, making an equally effective alternative appealing both economically and environmentally. 

To reach the goal of finding an alternative bait, Targett partnered with DuPont scientists to analyze the horseshoe crab’s chemical makeup. They identified 100 compounds in tissue samples and were able to rule out some as key components in the scent that appeals so strongly to eel and whelk. 

“We were pleased to provide the expertise of DuPont scientists, as well as business advice to make this project successful,” said Gary Spitzer, DuPont senior vice president of operations and engineering. “This is a great example of the way corporations, universities and governments can collaborate to promote sustainable solutions.” 

Concurrent with the chemical approach, Targett’s lab developed artificial bait made from alginates (compounds found in brown seaweeds and kelp), a small amount of coarsely ground horseshoe crab and food-grade chemicals including baking soda and citric acid. When mixed together, these ingredients form a quick-set gelatin that keeps for up to four days.

Compared with using half of a female horseshoe crab, which is the Delaware limit, the mixture was just as productive in catching eel using only one-eighth of a female. By substituting an invasive species, the Asian shore crab, the researchers cut that amount down to as little as one-sixteenth of a horseshoe crab. They tested catching whelk with the bait and found similarly successful results. 

In addition, despite speculation that female horseshoe crabs were better baits than males, the scientists found that artificial baits composed of males or females were equally effective. The Delaware limit is one whole male per trap or pot. 

The bait research was funded by Delaware Sea Grant, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) and DuPont Chemicals & Fluoroproducts. A faculty member at the Delaware Biotechnology Institute participated in the early stages of the research. DNREC provided logistical assistance in obtaining horseshoe crab specimens and connecting researchers with fishers. 

LaMonica Fine Foods in Millville, N.J., has started producing the bait commercially. Field tests in Delaware Bay with local whelk fishermen have been successful so far. 

“The hallmark of this bait is that everyone wins,” said Jim Roussos of LaMonica Fine Foods LLC. “This is a major step in conserving the natural resource of horseshoe crabs. The conch and eel fishermen are relieved of the pressures of buying, storing and processing horseshoe crabs. The University of Delaware has proven once again that it is a vital, important and valuable institution not only to its students but to the public at large. And commercial fisheries win when we can be conservators of public resources while maintaining our historical way of life.”

To learn more about the project and download the recipe for personal use, visit www.deseagrant.org.

For more information about pre-made bait, call Michael LaVecchia at LaMonica Fine Foods at 856-825-8111, ext. 102. 

Contact: Teresa Messmore, University of Delaware, 302-757-2245, or Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902.

Vol. 43, No. 220

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