Press Release – Abandoned Crab Trap Removal Program
February 28, 2022
As part of TPWD’s annual Abandoned Crab Trap Removal Program, volunteers and agencies scoured Aransas, San Antonio, and Matagorda Bay systems in coordinated effort to locate and remove derelict crab traps. In total, 1047 traps were removed by 61 boats and 184 people during the 10-day closure period from February 18-27, 2022. In 2021 and 2020, 1203 and 1632 traps were removed, respectively.
Volunteer activities were coordinated by the Mission-Aransas National Estuary Research Reserve, the San Antonio Bay Partnership, and the Matagorda Bay Foundation. Boats and volunteers came from numerous local organizations: CCA chapters, GBRA, LNRA, GBR Trust, TPWD, USFW, MCTMN, CBBEP, UTMSI, ICF, Dallas Zoo, Texas Seagrant, and concerned citizens.
The traps are unsightly litter and navigation hazards. Also, derelict traps can continue to ‘ghost fish’, entrapping and killing crabs, fish, and turtles. Allan Berger who coordinated the cleanup effort for San Antonio Bay and made the following observations regarding this year’s program:
- Most of the traps removed were at the shoreline, or on shore, the result of high winds and tides during Hurricane Nicolas.
- Winter Storm Uri killed mangrove which exposed older traps on the shoreline.
- Traps removed from open water were down significantly from previous years due to diligent efforts by commercial crabbers to pick up their traps prior to the closure period.
- Bad weather hampered cleanup efforts. Only 4 days offered workable weather, leaving several areas unsearched.
- An analysis of the location, content, and ownership data collected for each trap is planned. This information will inform efforts to reduce trap dereliction in the future.
Special thanks to the Calhoun High School Navy ROTC students for manning the TPWD Dock in Port O’Connor to unload boats and process the cleaner traps for metal recycling.
The cleanup effort for 2021 and 2022 was funded by a NOAA Marine Debris Program Community-based Marine Debris Removal grant obtained by the Coastal Bend Bays & Estuaries Program and supplemented by local sponsors Guadalupe Blanco River Trust and Guadalupe Blanco River Authority.
Berger noted that the program’s success is due to the efforts of the volunteers and agencies noted above, as well as the commercial crabbers’ efforts to improve management of their traps. Together, we can keep our Bays clean and productive.
To sign up for notifications related to next year’s efforts, contact Allan Berger at AllanRBerger@outlook.com
International Crane Foundation video Collecting Crab Traps Off the Texas Coast