TPWD News Release — Feb. 10, 2011
AUSTIN — Hoping to add to the pile of more than 27,500 derelict crab traps hauled from Texas bays since 2002, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials are gearing up for the 10th abandoned crab trap removal effort Feb. 18-27.
During this 10-day period, all Texas bays will be closed to crabbing with traps. Any traps left in a bay will be assumed to be abandoned and considered “litter” under state law, which allows volunteers to legally remove any traps they find. Prior to the 77th Legislature authorizing the abandoned crab trap removal program, only the trap’s owner or a Texas game warden could legally remove a crab trap. Game wardens still collect more than 2,500 illegal traps annually, but many more remain in the water to foul shrimpers’ nets, snag fishermen’s lines, accidently trap fish (called “ghost fishing”) and create an unsightly view.
This year, in celebration of the first decade of the program, two framed original TPWD stamp prints will be given to two lucky volunteers who help out with the program.
TPWD will be facilitating trap drop-off sites at several locations in each major bay system along the coast from 8 a.m. to noon on Feb. 19, weather permitting. Additionally, at all sites, dumpsters marked with banners will be available to receive traps for the duration of the closure. Volunteers may help out on Feb. 19 or work at their own pace anytime during the closure, but traps cannot be removed prior to Feb. 18 or after Feb. 27.
Last year, volunteers, with the aid of numerous sponsors, removed roughly 1,800 traps.
"The success of this program is a reflection of the keen sense of stewardship anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts have for the marine resources of this great state,” said Art Morris, TPWD program coordinator. “Volunteers have removed more traps from Texas waters than any other state and the results show. The waning number of traps removed each year demonstrates that this volunteer effort has had a big impact."
The Coastal Conservation Association Texas, Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Research Program, and the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Reserve are providing continued support to the crab trap removal program. Numerous other organizations and companies also are volunteering their services.
To participate, volunteers can arrange to pickup free tarps, gloves, trap hooks and additional information at their local TPWD Coastal Fisheries field stations. TPWD requests volunteers’ who remove traps record and submit information about the number they collect as well as any sightings of diamond-backed terrapins.
For more information about the Abandoned Crab Trap Removal Program and how you can volunteer, please contact your local TPWD Coastal Fisheries office or Art Morris at the Corpus Christi field station: (361) 825-3356.