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February 2011 Crab Trap Removal Marks 10th Anniversary
Decade-long Cleanup Removes 29,053 Wire Traps from Texas Bays
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – It’s hard to imagine a pile of crusty old derelict crab traps stretching over 29,000 traps high, but that is where the tally stands after this past February marked the 10th anniversary of the Texas Abandoned Crab Trap Removal Program.
After 10 years, the annual cleanup still has an enthusiastic set of volunteers that are not afraid to get wet and muddy removing what they see as a form of marine debris that doubles as both an eye sore and dangerous killer of aquatic life.
Each February since 2002, a small army of volunteers has descended on the coast to remove derelict crab traps. In year one, more than 8,000 traps were removed, but in subsequent years, less and less traps were located. This year yielded 1,491 traps removed, the second fewest since the program began.
Nevertheless, the same old stories continue to filter in about the “ghost fishing” effect of these traps. One volunteer removing traps near the mouth of the Guadalupe River reported 25 live sheepshead in a single trap. Another Galveston Bay volunteer documented the remains of a diamond-backed terrapin. And in all areas, blue and stone crabs – the original target species of these now-derelict traps – continue to be found.
Not all reports are alarming though. Several volunteers reported that it was hard to find traps, indicating most areas are seeing fewer abandoned traps. some volunteers reported a “slow day” when they reported to the drop-off locations.
In celebration of the 10th anniversary, a drawing was held this year among all the participants to receive one of two TPWD saltwater stamp prints as a token of appreciation. Due to the luck of the draw, both winners were from Rockport. One was Philip Durst, who removed traps from the upper portion of Aransas Bay. The other as Chet Cloudt, who removed eight traps by kayak in a St. Charles Bay adventure from Big Tree to the HWY 35 bridge on Cavasso Creek alongside a couple of TPWD biologists.
As in years past, the program would not have been nearly as successful had it not been for the generous donations of gloves by CCA Texas, tarps from the Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program and free dumpsters from Commercial Metals Inc., as well as the valuable donations of many other partners and volunteers.
With 29,053 traps removed from the coast in the past 10 years, it would not be unreasonable to step back and proclaim, “Nice job folks. You’re working yourselves out of a job!”
Nonetheless, plans are proceeding for the next crab trap cleanup. Volunteers should stay tuned to the TPWD website for details to come.
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