Annual crab trap removal program set for Feb. 18-27

This year marks the 20th year that the annual Texas Abandoned Crab Trap Removal Program will take place.

Every February volunteers will spend 10 days on the water along the Texas Gulf coast searching the bays for abandoned crab traps.

From Friday, Feb. 18, through Sunday, Feb. 27, crabbing season using wire mesh crab traps will be closed, according to a news release from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD.)

Any traps found in bays, including traps tied to docks, will be considered abandoned and thus deemed litter under state law. Volunteers can legally remove any traps they find during this period.

When left in the water, these crab traps foul shrimpers’ nets, snag anglers’ lines, “ghost fish” and create unsightly views. To date, the program has hauled off more than 40,000 of these derelict traps, the release said.

“Ghost fishing” refers to the unattended traps continuing to catch crabs and other marine species. Thousands of crabs and other species can be killed each year if they are left in these abandoned traps.

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.

The release said that to facilitate the volunteer efforts, The TPWD will have cleanup events on Saturday, Feb. 19, from 8 a.m. to noon. TPWD will provide crab trap drop-off sites at locations in each major bay system along the coast.

At all sites, dumpsters or collection areas will be marked with banners to receive traps from Feb. 18 through Feb. 27.

Volunteers may focus their efforts on Feb. 19 or work at their own pace anytime during the 10-day period, but traps cannot be removed prior to Feb. 18 or after Feb. 27.

Volunteers may pick up free tarps, gloves, trap hooks and additional information at a TPWD Coastal Fisheries field station.

The closest field station to Port Aransas is in Rockport at 702 Navigation Circle. The station is open Monday to Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. TPWD requests that volunteers who remove traps record and submit information about the number of traps they collect and document sightings of diamondback terrapins.

The closest trap drop-off locations to Port Aransas are at South Conn Brown Harbor public ramp on Bigelow Street or Ransom Channel public ramp on Ransom Drive, both in Aransas Pass.

All other legal means of crabbing will not be affected during the closure period.

The Coastal Conservation Association Texas, Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program, Galveston Bay Foundation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provide continued support to the crab trap removal program. Numerous other organizations and companies also volunteer their services.

For more information, contact the Rockport field station at (361) 729-2328.

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