AUSTIN —Each February for more than a decade, armadas of volunteers in Texas and Louisiana spend 10 days on the water searching the bays for abandoned crab traps that have been left to foul shrimpers’ nets, snag anglers’ lines, “ghost fish” and create an unsightly view. To date, they’ve hauled off more than 55,000 of these dilapidated devices.
This year, to help facilitate cleanup efforts around Sabine Lake, Louisiana will be working jointly with Texas by closing the season to crabbing concurrently Feb. 20-March 1 for the Annual Crab Trap Removal program.
During this 10-day period, all Texas and the Louisiana side of Sabine Lake will be closed to crabbing with wire mesh crab traps. Any traps left in the bay — including traps tied to docks — will be assumed abandoned and considered “litter” under state law. This allows volunteers to legally remove any crab traps they find.
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, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will provide trap drop-off sites at several locations in each major bay system along the coast from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Feb. 21, 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. 21 or work at their own pace anytime during the closure, but traps cannot be removed prior to Feb. 20 or after March 1.
The Coastal Conservation Association Texas, Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program 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]