TPWD News Release — Feb. 8, 2007
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials have established 18 unmanned crab trap drop-off sites and ten manned sites for the annual 10-day volunteer crab trap cleanup on Texas bays.
Some 19,930 derelict crab traps have been removed from Texas bays over the last five years, and the 6th Texas Abandoned Crab Trap Removal Program runs this year from February 16-25.
During this 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.
On the upper coast, CCA Texas will sponsor a second lifetime fishing license. For the purposes of the fishing license giveaway, Matagorda Bay-north is considered the upper coast.
In either case, volunteers will need to show proof of participation to be eligible by attending a manned site, providing photos or signing up at a TPWD field station.
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.
Sabine Lake — 601 Channelview, Port Arthur, TX. Local TPWD coordinator Jerry Mambretti (409) 983-1104
Galveston Bay — 1502 FM 517 East, Dickinson, TX. Local TPWD coordinator Rebecca Hensley (281) 534-0108
Matagorda Bay — 2200 Harrison, Palacios, TX. Local TPWD coordinator Wayne Dodd (361) 972-6253.
San Antonio Bay — 16th and Maple, Port O’Connor, TX. Local TPWD coordinator Norman Boyd (361) 983-4425
Aransas Bay — Rockport Marine Lab, 702 Navigation, Rockport, TX. Local TPWD coordinator Dennis Pridgen (361) 729-2328
Corpus Christi Bay — Rockport Marine Lab, 702 Navigation, Rockport, TX. Local TPWD coordinator Tom Wagner (361) 729-2328
Upper Laguna Madre — Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, Natural Resources Center, 6300 Ocean Drive, Suite 2500, Corpus Christi, TX. Local TPWD coordinator Perry Trial (361) 825-3353
Lower Laguna Madre —95 Fish Hatchery Road, Olmito, TX. Local TPWD coordinator Mark Lingo (956) 350-4490