Hoping to add to the pile of more than 33,449 derelict crab traps hauled from Texas bays since 2002, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials are gearing up for the 14th annual Texas Abandoned Crab Trap Removal Program Feb. 21 to March 2.
During this 10-day period, all Texas bays will be closed to crabbing with wire mesh crab traps. Any traps left in the bay will be assumed abandoned and considered “litter” under state law. This allows volunteers to legally remove any crab 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. State game wardens confiscate more than 2,500 illegal traps annually, yet many more remain to foul shrimpers’ nets, snag anglers’ lines, “ghost fish” and create an unsightly view of Texas shores.
Volunteers are needed to assist in the coast-wide effort to remove the numerous traps that have been lost or abandoned since last year’s cleanup. To facilitate volunteer trap removal efforts this year, TPWD will provide trap drop-off sites at several locations in each major bay system along the coast from 8 a.m. to noon on Feb. 22, weather permitting. Additionally at all sites, dumpsters or collection areas marked with banners will be available to receive traps for the duration of the closure. Volunteers may focus their efforts on Feb. 22 or work at their own pace anytime during the closure, but traps cannot be removed prior to Feb. 21 or after March 2.
Last year, volunteers with the aid of numerous sponsors removed nearly 1,000 traps coast-wide.
“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, ACTRP program coordinator for TPWD. “Volunteers have removed more traps from Texas waters than any other Gulf state and the results show.”
Morris said the number of traps removed each year has steadily been decreasing, indicating the impact of the volunteer program.
The Coastal Conservation Association Texas, Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program, NRG Energy and the Galveston Bay Foundation are providing continued support to the crab trap removal program. Numerous other organizations and companies also are volunteering their services.
To participate, volunteers may pick up free tarps, gloves, trap hooks and additional information at their local TPWD Coastal Fisheries field stations. TPWD requests that volunteers who remove traps record and submit information about the number of traps they collect as well as documenting any sightings of diamondback terrapins.
All other legal means of crabbing will not be affected during the closure period for wire crab traps. For more information, contact your local TPWD Coastal Fisheries office or Art Morris at the Corpus Christi field station, (361) 825-3356 or [email protected]
Local TPWD coordinator Jerry Mambretti (409) 983-1104 (Ext. 222)
Local TPWD coordinator Bill Balboa (281) 534-0110
Local TPWD coordinator Leslie Hartman (361) 972-6253
Local TPWD coordinator Norman Boyd (361) 983-4425
Local TPWD coordinator Emma Clarkson (361) 729-5429
Local TPWD coordinator Tom Wagner (361) 729-2328
Local TPWD coordinator Faye Grubbs (361) 825-3353
Local TPWD coordinator Mark Lingo (956) 350-4490
Source: Texas Parks & Wildlife Department