TPWD News Release — Jan. 26, 2004
Volunteers are needed to assist in the coast-wide effort to remove the many thousands of wire mesh cages used to catch crabs that have been lost or abandoned since last year’s cleanup.
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. During the past two year’s efforts, traps from Galveston Bay and San Antonio Bay accounted for almost 8,000 traps collected along the coast.
Prior to the 77th Legislature of Texas authorizing an abandoned crab trap removal program, only the trap’s owner or a TPWD game warden could legally remove a crab trap. To address this again in 2004, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission voted last November to close crabbing with traps in Texas waters for 10 days beginning on the third Friday of February each year, which this year will be from Feb. 20-29, to remove abandoned crab traps.
“Hurricane Claudette caused some problems for crabbers along the middle coast last summer and there are a lot of traps that need to be removed. These traps can cause a host of problems from tangling shrimp trawls and propellers to creating simple marine debris,” Art Morris, TPWD trap cleanup coordinator, explained. “Not to mention the loss of organisms wasted each year due to the ghost fishing effects of these traps.”
Different from past cleanups, as a result of SB 607 passed last legislative session, on the first day of the closure any crab trap left in the water will be defined as litter and can be removed by anyone. All traps picked up as litter must be disposed of properly and cannot be reused.
TPWD will be facilitating volunteer trap removal efforts on Saturday, Feb. 21 at 14 locations coast-wide, weather permitting. In case of inclement weather, the event will be postponed until the next available weekend day, but cannot occur after Feb.29. Last year, 494 volunteers and 152 vessels participated in the cleanup along with numerous sponsors.
“This program is a strong indication of the wonderful resource conservation ethics that the public has about protecting Texas’ bays and estuaries,” said Morris. “This year’s volunteer and sponsor participation is shaping up to be just as big as years past. We should have a great cleanup and a good time. But we still need all the volunteers we can get, especially in Galveston, Matagorda and San Antonio Bays.”
The NOAA (National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration) Restoration Center and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program are providing grants to the crab trap removal program. Additional help is coming from the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program, Regional Steel, Best Manufacturing and numerous organizations and companies like CCA Texas, SCA Texas, SALT, ExxonMobil and others volunteering their services.
Morris noted that individuals who conduct cleanups on days other than TPWD facilitated cleanup dates will have to make their own arrangements for trap disposal but can contact a local coordinator for assistance.
Following is a site list of TPWD staffed locations where traps can be dropped off during the cleanup. Each site will be manned by TPWD staff from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Disposal facilities will be provided at each site on the day of the cleanup. For those who choose to work on their own, TPWD requests information about the number of traps that they collect.
To volunteer or for more information contact one of the regional coordinators Art Morris in Corpus Christi at (361) 825-3356 or Bobby Miller in Dickinson at (281) 534-0110.
Aransas Bay — Local TPWD coordinator Karen Meador (361) 729-2328
Corpus Christi Bay — Local TPWD coordinator Paul Choucair (361) 729-2328
Galveston Bay — Local TPWD coordinator Rebecca Hensley (281) 534-0108
Lower Laguna Madre — Local TPWD coordinator Randy Blankinship (956) 350-4490
Matagorda Bay — Local TPWD coordinator Bill Balboa (361) 972-6253
Sabine Lake — Local TPWD coordinator Jerry Mambretti (409) 983-1104
San Antonio Bay — Local TPWD coordinator Norman Boyd (361) 983-4425
Upper Laguna Madre — Local TPWD coordinator Kyle Spiller (361) 825-3353