Each February for more than 15 years, countless volunteers spend 10 days on the water along the Texas coastline searching the bays for abandoned crab traps left to foul shrimpers’ nets, snag anglers’ lines, “ghost fish,” and create unsightly views. To date, they’ve hauled off more than 32,000 of these derelict traps. Between February 17-26, Texas coastal waters will be closed to crabbing with wire mesh crab traps to facilitate the annual volunteer crab trap cleanup. Any traps left in bays — 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, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) will provide crab trap drop-off sites at locations in each major bay system along the coast from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Feb. 18, 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. 18 or work at their own pace anytime during the closure, but traps cannot be removed prior to Feb. 17 or after Feb. 26.
The Coastal Conservation Association Texas, Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program, Galveston Bay Foundation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 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 Zack Thomas at (512) 389-8448 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the abandoned crab trap removal program’s history or for more information about volunteering, click on the links.
YouTube video Crab Trap Removal produced by TPWD.
2017 Crab Trap Drop-Off Site for East Galveston Bay is Stingaree Restaurant and Marina — Facilitated by Galveston Bay Foundation and Houston Zoo.
Images © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department