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Volunteers Sought For Crab Trap Clean-Up Feb. 16-25
AUSTIN, Texas — Hoping to add to the mountain of the 19,930 derelict crab traps hauled from Texas bays over the last five years, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials are gearing up for the 6th Texas Abandoned Crab Trap Removal Program, running this year from February 16-25.
During this 10-day period, all Texas bays will be closed to crabbing with crab traps and any traps left in the bay will be presumed to be abandoned and considered litter under state law, thus allowing volunteers to legally remove any crab traps they find.
Before the 77th Legislature authorized the abandoned crab trap removal program, only the trap's owner or a TPWD game warden could legally remove a crab trap.
State game wardens pick up more than 2,500 traps annually, yet there are many more still in the water to foul shrimpers' nets, snag fishermen's lines and create an unsightly view of Texas shores.
Volunteers are needed to assist in the coast-wide effort to remove the numerous wire mesh cages used to catch crabs that have been lost or abandoned since last year's cleanup and years past.
To facilitate volunteer trap removal efforts this year, TPWD will host various trap drop off sites at various locations along the coast on Saturday, February 17th, weather permitting. At other sites, dumpsters will be placed to receive traps throughout the entire closure, which will be marked with banners and will sit at the drop off sites for the duration of the closure.
Volunteers can work at their own pace during the closure as time and weather permit, but cannot remove traps before Feb. 16 or after Feb. 25. Last year, volunteers with the aid of numerous sponsors removed about 2,000 traps.
"This volunteer based program has exceeded our wildest imaginations. So good in fact we are working ourselves out of a job, as indicated by the waning number of traps removed each year”, said Art Morris, TPWD program coordinator. “We are especially proud of the job that everyone has done. Overall, the coast looks great in terms of the number of derelict traps people encounter. But in some areas, we could still use a little tidying up, especially in Galveston, Matagorda and San Antonio Bays."
During past efforts, traps from Galveston Bay and San Antonio Bay accounted for more than 70 percent of the traps collected along the coast.
This year marks a milestone for the program. To commemorate the removal of the 20,000th trap, one lucky volunteer from the lower coast will be drawn from all that participate to receive a special prize — a lifetime fishing license — sponsored by the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program with a second lifetime fishing license to be given away to an upper coast volunteer by a yet to be named sponsor.
To be eligible to participate in the drawing, sign up at the local trap drop-off site or contact the local TPWD Coastal Fisheries Field station office for details.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program, Coastal Conservation Association Texas, Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program, and the Cecil M. Hopper Museum are providing significant support to the crab trap removal program. Additional help is coming from numerous organizations and companies like Saltwater Anglers League of Texas and others who are volunteering their services.
For those who choose to work on their own, TPWD requests information about the number of traps that they collect. To participate, volunteers can pickup free tarps, gloves, trap hooks and additional information at each of the sites or their local TPWD Coastal Fisheries Field Stations.
For more information about the program, please contact Art Morris (361) 825-3356 or Bobby Miller (281) 534-0110.
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