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March 8, 2004
3rd Annual Crab Trap Cleanup Clears More Than 3,000 Traps
AUSTIN, Texas — With the close of the third annual crab trap cleanup, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and hundreds of volunteers have removed at least 3,571 abandoned or lost traps from the Texas coast, with a few results still coming in. The number is a slight dip from last year’s total of 3,838.
"There are fewer traps to be found because of past efforts, but there are still traps out in bays that we still need to get to," said Art Morris, crab trap cleanup coordinator. "We have removed roughly 15,500 traps during the three cleanups and the bays are looking better and better all the time. Thanks to the volunteers, we’re making a significant impact on the problem."
The abandoned wire mesh cages continue to kill crabs, fish and other aquatic life as long as they are on the ocean floor. Additionally, the traps can be a hazard to navigation, foul shrimpers’ nets and snag fishermens’ lines.
Until the 77th Legislature created the abandoned crab trap removal program, only the trap’s owner or a TPWD game warden could legally remove an abandoned crab trap. With this authority and Senate Bill 607 passed by the 78th Legislature that defines a trap as abandoned on the first day of the closure, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission last fall adopted a permanent 10-day closure to occur on the third Friday of February of each year. From Feb. 20-29, all Texas coastal waters were closed to crabbing with traps to allow TPWD staff and volunteers to scour the bays in an attempt to remove the traps.
Volunteers had several interesting finds during their cleanup. The oldest trap was marked with a metal tag from the license year 1992, and the Aransas Bay crew found live hard coral growing on several traps seven miles from the Gulf jetties. One trap collected in Corpus Christi Bay, covered with oysters and barnacles, contained seven toadfish, nine sheepshead, six gray snapper, four black drum and three spadefish.
The preliminary cleanup results show 311 volunteers worked with TPWD to clean up the Texas coast. Following are total traps collected in each area.
- Aransas Bay — 114
- Corpus Christi Bay — 72
- Galveston Bay — 1,264
- Lower Laguna Madre — 1
- Matagorda Bay — 452
- Sabine Lake — 128
- San Antonio Bay — 1,537
- Upper Laguna Madre — 3
The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration Restoration Center and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program have provided grants to the crab trap removal program. Additional help has come from the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program, Regional Steel, Best Manufacturing and numerous organizations and companies like CCA Texas, SCA Texas, SALT, the Texas General Land Office and others volunteering their services.
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