AUSTIN, Texas — Hoping to add to the pile of more than 18,000 crab traps hauled from Texas bays during the last four years, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials are gearing up for the 5th annual Texas Abandoned Crab Trap Removal Program, running this year from February 17-26.

Bays will be closed to commercial crabbing during this period, and any traps found will be presumed to be lost or abandoned.

Volunteers are needed to assist in the coast-wide effort to remove the numerous wire mesh cages used to catch crabs that have been lost or abandoned since last year’s cleanup and years past.

State game wardens pick up more than 2,500 traps annually, yet there are many more still in the water to foul shrimpers’ nets, snag fishermen’s lines and create an unsightly view of Texas shores.

During the past four year’s efforts, traps from Galveston Bay and San Antonio Bay accounted for more than 12,500 or 70 percent of the traps collected along the coast.

Before the 77th Legislature authorized the abandoned crab trap removal program, only the trap’s owner or a TPWD game warden could legally remove a crab trap.

To facilitate volunteer trap removal efforts this year, TPWD will place dumpsters at various locations along the coast beginning Friday, Feb. 17, at 16 locations coast-wide. These dumpsters will be marked with banners and will sit at the drop off sites for the duration of the closure.

Volunteers can work at their own pace during the closure as time and weather permit, but cannot remove traps after Feb. 26. Last year, volunteers with the aid of numerous sponsors removed more than 2,500 traps.

“This program has gained national reputation over the years for its conservation stewardship efforts, which would not have occurred had it not been for the magnificent resource conservation ethics that the public has about protecting Texas’ bays and estuaries,” said Art Morris, TPWD program coordinator. “We are working ourselves out of a job, which is a good thing, so we decided to scale back efforts a little bit this year. But we still have a high amount of interest in the program from sponsors and volunteers, and some areas on the coast could still use a little tidying up, especially in Galveston, Matagorda and San Antonio Bays.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program, Coastal Conservation Association Texas, Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program, Best Manufacturing and the Cecil M. Hopper Museum are providing significant support to the crab trap removal program. Additional help is coming numerous organizations and companies like Saltwater Anglers League of Texas and others who are volunteering their services.

Following is a site list of locations where traps can be dropped off from February 17-26. Disposal facilities will be maintained at each site for the duration of the cleanup, but each site will be unmanned.

For those who choose to work on their own, TPWD requests information about the number of traps that they collect. To participate, volunteers can pickup free tarps, gloves, trap hooks and additional information at each of the following TPWD Coastal Fisheries Field Stations.

Crab Trap Cleanup Collection Sites

Aransas Bay – Rockport Marine Lab, 702 Navigation, Rockport, TX. Local TPWD coordinator Karen Meador (361) 729-2328

  • Goose Island State Park – Rockport
  • Conn Brown Harbor – Aransas Pass

Corpus Christi Bay –Rockport Marine Lab, 702 Navigation, Rockport, TX. Local TPWD coordinator Paul Choucair (361) 729-2328

  • Conn Brown Harbor – Aransas Pass
  • South Nueces Boat Ramp — Corpus Christi

Galveston Bay –1502 FM 517 East, Dickinson, TX. Local TPWD coordinator Rebecca Hensley (281) 534-0108

  • Trinity Bay – Fort Anahuac Park
  • Galveston Bay/Jones Lake – Fat Boy’s State Ramp off I-45
  • East Bay – Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge
  • Chocolate Bayou Ramp FM 2004

Lower Laguna Madre –95 Fish Hatchery Road, Olmito, TX. Local TPWD coordinator Randy Blankinship (956) 350-4490

  • Adolfe Thomae County Park-Arroyo City
  • Port Mansfield Navigation District Ramp-Port Mansfield.

Matagorda Bay – 2200 Harrison, Palacios, TX. Local TPWD coordinator Bill Balboa (361) 972-6253

  • Matagorda Harbor Boat Ramp — Matagorda
  • Mitchell’s Cut Public Ramp — Sargent

Sabine Lake – 601 Channel View, Port Arthur, TX. Local TPWD coordinator Jerry Mambretti (409) 983-1104

  • Walter Umphrey State Park (Mesquite Point) on Pleasure Island-Port Arthur

San Antonio Bay – 16th and Maple, Port O’Connor, TX. Local TPWD coordinator Norman Boyd (361) 983-4425

  • Charlie’s Bait Stand – Seadrift
  • Port O’Conner TPWD dock

Upper Laguna Madre – Texas A&M University Corpus Christi, Natural Resources Center, 6300 Ocean Drive, Suite 2500, Corpus Christi, TX. Local TPWD coordinator Kyle Spiller (361) 825-3353

  • Bluff Landing Marina — Corpus Christi
  • Kaufer Park Boat Ramp – Baffin Bay – Riviera Beach

To volunteer, or for more information, contact one of the regional coordinators: Art Morris in Corpus Christi at (361) 825-3356, or Bobby Miller in Dickinson at (281) 534-0110.

– Texas Saltwater Fishing Guide