09.01.2005 - I was working on a bat removal project in Hobe Sound Florida, when something caught the corner of my eye. It was an odd shape and color, and it was moving unlike anything I'd ever seen before. "What in the hell is that?" I thought. I walked over
for a closer look, and was amazed to see this crab. I do not know the species, but I believe it might be some sort of fiddler crab. The fact is that I had no idea that I was close to any body of salt water. In fact, I was still over a mile from the ocean. In addition,
this house was surrounded by a large stone wall, so I didn't know how the crab got inside. I was really amazed to see it. I was also delighted at the whimsical eyes and defensive posturing and the bright and varied
colors. It was just plain cool to see, and I was pleased as a peach, I tell you. After some photos, I decided to leave it alone, and I got back to my bat control project. I don't officially perform crab removal services, but if I had to, I think I'd do a fine job.
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Ghost-fishing perfectly describes the situation in Louisiana's waters where abandoned or lost derelict crab traps are killing over 26 blue crabs each year. Unfortunately, thousands of these traps become a part of the waves, which has a great impact on the fishery business as well.
Where Do the Crab Traps Arrive from?
Mostly lost or abandoned, these derelict crab traps are accidentally lost while crab trapping by the fisheries. Due to tidal waves, wind currents, and storms, the traps become a part of the sea or river. Sometimes, improper disposal of old crab traps around the beach can also lead to it being swept by the sea. Are Derelict Traps Illegal? Why Remove the Crab Traps?
Although it's not illegal, leaving the derelict crab traps in water purposefully is definitely illegal. Apart from being deadly for multiple marine organisms, these lost or abandoned crab traps damage nets and disturb turtle excluder devices (TED). These traps can also be a navigational as well as a safety threat for boaters. Moreover, recreational anglers mostly lose their fishing lines or gear caught up in crab traps under the water's surface, increasing marine debris. As for the shorelines and marshes, these crab traps are not different than litter and waste destroying the beauty of coastlines.
Crab Trap Removal:
The simplest solution is to pick up crab traps that are found on the coast, but it's not allowed. You cannot remove a derelict trap on your boat or fishing tackle and keep it. Only the owners have the right. However, shrimpers can remove and return functional crab traps to the water using a single float or unfishable trap to shore for proper crab trap disposal.
What About the Abandoned Crab Trap Removal Program?
The Abandoned Crab Trap Removal Program (ACTRP) was a senate bill passed during the 2001 legislative session. The bill grants the TPWD authority for 10 days crab trap closure, particularly during the third Friday of February every year. All the crab traps are removed during these 10 days and are disposed of properly. Since 2002, thousands of people volunteer to remove abandoned and left out crab traps to save marine life.
How to Help Reduce Crab Trap Litter and Damage?
Thousands of volunteers can come together to save nature and marine life. Volunteers can do this service at their nearest river line by collecting traps in February. They unload the traps at the dock, count them, and help with the proper disposal of the traps. Multiple flatboats as well as airboats are also employed for crab trap removal. Those with boats help in taking out the washed out traps from under the sea bed. All in all, it's a collective effort for saving the innocent marine life.
Being an animal removal and control team, we highly prefer and support humane ways of removal and control. Therefore, these crab traps that make marine life miserable and also interfere with fishermen's tasks are another nuisance. Removal of crab traps collectively is not only fun but satisfying.