The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, in coordination with Louisiana Sea Grant, has completed the first of two derelict crab trap clean-ups, resulting in the removal and disposal of more than 1,900 abandoned and derelict crab traps. This project involved temporarily closing a 223,052-acre portion of St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes to the use of crab traps over a 10-day period spanning Feb. 25 through March 5.
All crab traps retrieved were brought to a disposal site at Sweetwater Marina in Delacroix, which graciously hosted two volunteer clean-up days on Saturday, Feb. 25, and Saturday, March 3. In addition to retrieving traps, special efforts were made by volunteers and staff to photograph and document the presence of crabs and any bycatch in traps before returning these contents to the water. Traps were unloaded from boats and buoys, and buoy lines were removed before each trap was crushed and stacked into dumpsters. The 1,954 traps retrieved completely filled eight 30 cubic yard, roll-on/roll-off dumpsters, which were transported to a metal salvage yard for recycling.
The recreational and commercial blue crab fishery and industry benefit from and depend on the use of crab traps, but increases in the number of abandoned traps has led to problems which include ghost fishing, mortality of blue crabs and associated bycatch, conflicts with other fishermen and interactions with their fishing gear and boating hazards.
Since 2004, the LDWF, together with volunteer organizations and individual volunteers, has successfully removed and disposed of more than 20,000 abandoned and derelict crabs.
Volunteers needed for March 17 clean-up
LDWF and Louisiana Sea Grant continue to seek volunteers to assist with the next derelict crab trap removal clean-up Terrebonne Parish, which will begin March 17 at 6 a.m. and end March 26 at 6 a.m. A volunteer clean-up day will be hosted on Saturday, March 17, at Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) in Cocodrie. Volunteers are encouraged to pre-register with Louisiana Sea Grant at: http://www.laseagrant.org/crabtraps/.
To view a description and map of the Terrebonne Parish closure area, click here.
The success of the derelict crab trap removal program heavily relies on the support and participation of volunteers. LDWF and LSG extend many thanks to all who volunteered. Special thanks to Cpt. Jack Payne III and Cindy Berry of Sweetwater Marina who provided use of their facilities and sponsored volunteer prizes; Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) and members for participating in the trap cleanup, sponsoring additional prizes and assembling a cooking team that prepared food for volunteers; and, the Nature Conservancy.