By JIM FOSTER
Special to the Parade
Many anglers and boaters have had the frustration of spending an hour or better cutting an abandoned and unseen crap trap from their lower unit and prop. In addition, these traps are death boxes for many game as well as non-game species. These scenes and deaths can be avoided with the proper action. The game wardens are doing their part, and now it’s the people’s turn.
Beginning on February 15 and continuing through February 24, all Texas bays will be closed to crabbing. During those dates traps left in the water will be considered abandoned and considered “litter,” allowing volunteers to legally remove any crab. Since the Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPW) Abandoned Crab Trap Removal Program began in 2002, a total of 29,552 wire mesh traps have been removed from our bays. This year, TPW hopes to see the count go up to over 30,000.
It is estimated one abandoned crab trap can trap and kill 26 blue crabs per trap per year. So, the 29,552 traps we have removed add up to over 480,000 blue crabs that have been saved in just one year.
For example, in 2004 just one abandoned trap found in Corpus Christi Bay contained nine sheepshead, seven Gulf toadfish, six mangrove snapper, four black drum and three Atlantic spadefish – all dead.
As in past years, TPW will provide trap drop-off sites at several locations. Dumpsters marked with banners will be available to receive traps for the duration of the closure.
Volunteers can concentrate their efforts on the opening weekend or work at their own pace anytime during the closure, but traps cannot be removed prior to February 15 or after February 24.
Volunteers can arrange to pickup free tarps, gloves, trap hooks and additional information at their local TPW Coastal Fisheries Field Stations. TPW requests that volunteers who remove traps report any sightings of diamond-back terrapins.
The following are 2013 trap drop-off sites: Lower Laguna Madre – Local TPWD coordinator Mark Lingo, (956) 350-4490; Adolfe Thomae County Park at Arroyo City; Port Mansfield Navigation District Ramp at Port Mansfield.
For more information about the Abandoned Crab Trap Removal Program and how you can volunteer, contact your local TPWD Coastal Fisheries Office or Art Morris at the Corpus Christi Field Station: (361) 825-3356 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s Note: To see more of Jim’s writing and photography go to: http://fosteroutdoors.blogspot.com/. If you have comments or news for Jim Foster, email him at email@example.com.