Tough Weather Cleanup Yields 1100 Crab Traps

Story and photos by Everett and Pam Johnson
Tough Weather Cleanup Yields 1100 Crab Traps
This load of 57 traps came into Charlie’s Bait Camp near Seadrift on Feb 16, 2008.

Art Morris- Fishery Outreach Specialist with Texas Parks and Wildlife, reports the 7th Annual Abandoned Crab Trap Removal conducted February 15-24, 2008 resulted in 1100 lost or abandoned crab traps being removed from Texas bays. The volunteer force included 63 conservation-minded individuals manning 25 vessels as well as staff from Coastal Fisheries, TPWD game wardens, and Brazoria and Anahuac Wildlife Refuge personnel. Art also expressed gratitude for donation of drinking water and rubber work gloves that was organized by Ronnie Luster and CCA Texas. Art also gave credit for plastic tarps from the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Foundation to protect volunteer's boats.

Morris also reports, "The number of traps removed over the seven campaigns that began in 2002 now stands at 23,846. Weather forecasts for Saturday, February 16 no doubt hampered this year's event. Volunteer counts are under-reported and some participants waited for better weather that came later in the closure period. We have no way of accounting accurately for all the effort that was volunteered, but all who pitched in to assist in this effort are to be commended."

Ronnie Luster, widely recognized as Mr. Crab Trap Cleanup for his effort in securing the annual 10-day closure of the Texas crab fishery and the Abandoned Crab Trap Removal Program, produced what may have been the most notable find this year. Ronnie and sons, Ron Jr. and Preston, pulled a trap from San Antonio Bay that held a diamondback terrapin. Unfortunately, the terrapin had drowned and could not be released. Many volunteers reported finding a host of crabs and various species of finfish and other marine organisms that had found their way into the lost or abandoned gear. "Ghost trapping" as it is called continues as organisms held by the traps act as bait for others and the cycle repeats itself as long as the traps remain in the water.

Several local chapters of CCA Texas pitched in again. The photo below shows Mid-Coast Chapter President, Hector Mendietta and his crew from Victoria unloading the traps they collected at Charlie's Bait Camp near Seadrift.

Art Morris provided a bay-by-bay rundown of the 2008 removal program, and I want to say "Many Thanks," to all the hardworking volunteers and fine organizations that support this effort. We'll be looking for you next year and I know we're all praying for better weather.