Each February for 19 years, countless volunteers spend 10 days on the water along the Texas coastline. They search the bays for abandoned crab traps left to foul shrimpers’ nets, snag anglers’ lines, “ghost fish” and create unsightly views. To date, they’ve hauled off more than 38,000 of these derelict traps.
From Feb. 19-28, Texas coastal waters will be closed to crabbing with wire mesh crab traps to facilitate the annual volunteer crab trap cleanup. Any traps left in bays will be assumed abandoned and thus considered “litter” under state law. These also include traps tied to docks. This allows volunteers to legally remove any crab traps they find.
Volunteers are needed to assist in the effort to remove the numerous lost and abandoned traps. Locally, the non-facilitated trap drop-off sites for the lower Laguna Madre include Port Mansfield Navigation District Ramp in Raymondville and Adolfe Thomae County Park in Rio Hondo.
Volunteers are urged to wear masks and keep socially distance from those not in the same household when appropriate. Dumpsters or collection areas marked with banners will be available to receive traps for the duration of the closure. Volunteers may focus their efforts on Feb. 20 or work at their own pace anytime during the closure, but traps cannot be removed prior to Feb. 19 or after Feb. 28.
To participate, volunteers may pick up free tarps, gloves, face coverings, and additional information at their local TPWD Coastal Fisheries field stations. TPWD requests that volunteers who remove traps record and submit information about the number of traps they collect as well as documenting any sightings of diamondback terrapins.
All other legal means of crabbing will not be affected during the closure period for wire crab traps.