During this 10-day period, all Texas bays will be closed to crabbing with traps. Any traps left in a bay will be assumed to be abandoned and considered “litter” under state law, which allows volunteers to legally remove any traps they find. Prior to the 77th Legislature authorizing the abandoned crab trap removal program, only the trap’s owner or a Texas game warden could legally remove a crab trap. Game wardens still collect more than 2,500 illegal traps annually, but many more remain in the water to foul shrimpers’ nets, snag fishermen’s lines, accidently trap fish (called “ghost fishing”) and create an unsightly view.
This year, in celebration of the first decade of the program, two framed original TPWD stamp prints will be given to two lucky volunteers who help out with the program.
TPWD will be facilitating trap drop-off sites at several locations in each major bay system along the coast from 8 a.m. to noon on Feb. 19, weather permitting. Additionally, at all sites, dumpsters marked with banners will be available to receive traps for the duration of the closure. Volunteers may help out on Feb. 19 or work at their own pace anytime during the closure, but traps cannot be removed prior to Feb. 18 or after Feb. 27.
Last year, volunteers, with the aid of numerous sponsors, removed roughly 1,800 traps.
“The success of this program is a reflection of the keen sense of stewardship anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts have for the marine resources of this great state,” said Art Morris, TPWD program coordinator. “Volunteers have removed more traps from Texas waters than any other state and the results show.