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TPWD Seeks Volunteers to Remove Abandoned Crab Traps
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Hoping to add to the mountain of more than 24,000 derelict crab traps hauled from Texas bays since 2002, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials are gearing up for the 8th Texas Abandoned Crab Trap Removal Program, running this year from Feb. 20 to March 1.
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 Texas 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, ghost fish and create an unsightly view of Texas shores.
Volunteers are needed to assist in the coast-wide effort to remove the numerous wire mesh 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 along the coast Saturday, Feb. 21, from 8 a.m. to noon, weather permitting. Additionally, at all sites, dumpsters marked with banners will be available to receive traps for the duration of the closure. Site locations will be announced in February.
Volunteers can work at their own pace during the closure as time and weather permit, but traps cannot be removed prior to Feb. 20 or after March 1. Last year, volunteers, with the aid of numerous sponsors, removed more than 2,800 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. Volunteers are working themselves out of a job, as indicated by the waning number of traps removed each year, but that is a good thing," said Art Morris, TPWD program coordinator.
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 who are volunteering their services.
To participate, volunteers can arrange pickup free tarps, gloves, trap hooks and additional information at their local TPWD Coastal Fisheries Field Stations. TPWD requests volunteers record and submit information about the number of traps that they collect as well as any sightings of diamondback 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, firstname.lastname@example.org; or Tonya Wiley at the Dickinson Marine Lab: (281) 534-0131, email@example.com.
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