Derelict Crab Trap Removal

2018 Derelict Crab Trap Closure

LDWF plans seven crab trap closures along the Louisiana coast in 2018. Click each map below for details.

 

 

 

What is a derelict crab trap?

Derelict traps are traps that have been lost or abandoned. Large numbers of crab traps are lost or abandoned each year due to a number of reasons:

  • Separated from their buoys by tides, currents, storms, or passing boats
  • Caught in and displaced by shrimp gear
  • Vandalism
  • Improper disposal of old, unfishable traps
  • Poor assembly or maintenance of lines and floats
  • Abandoned by fishermen leaving the fishery.

Derelict traps can "ghost fish", continuing to capture blue crabs and other species. They can also create a navigational hazard for boats and become entangled in other fishing gear such as shrimp nets.

Since most crab traps are made of vinyl coated wire mesh, it can take years for a derelict crab trap to degrade. Removing these traps is essential for reducing mortality of blue crabs and other species due to ghost fishing, ensuring safe navigation, reducing conflicts with other fisheries and user groups, and improving the aesthetics of state waterways.

Derelict Crab Trap Removal Program

Under the authority of R.S. 56:332, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission established a Derelict Crab Trap Removal Program in 2004 to remove derelict crab traps from state-owned lake and river beds and other water bottoms and reduce their potential impacts. The program also collects data on the number and types of animals found in recovered traps. This program is funded in part by the sale of Louisiana crab fishing licenses and is run by LDWF, Louisiana Sea Grant, and volunteers.

Under this program, the Commission may prohibit crab traps in state-owned lake and river beds and other water bottoms during the following times:

  • A period not to exceed 16 consecutive days between February 1 and March 31
  • A period not to exceed 14 consecutive-days which includes the opening day of the spring inshore shrimp season.

Any crab trap found in these areas of the state when the Commission has prohibited their use shall be considered abandoned and may be removed by persons authorized by the Commission.

The Commission may also designate:

  • The beginning and ending dates of the trap closure
  • The geographical area of the trap closure
  • Who may remove the abandoned traps
  • The locations where the removed abandoned traps are to be placed for disposal.

Program Success

Since the Derelict Crab Trap Removal Program began, volunteers have helped remove more than 33,000 traps.

Year

Area

Closure Dates

Traps Removed

2004

Upper Terrebonne Bay Estuary

2/28-3/14

6,676

W. Vermilion Bay

5/14-5/22

218

2004 Total

6,894

2005

Sabine Lake

2/18-2/27

4

Breton Sound Estuary

2/26-3/13

 1,941

Middle Terrebonne Bay Estuary

3/5-3/20

 2,437

E. Vermilion Bay / West Cote Blanche Bay

5/16-5/22

241

2005 Total

4,623

2006

SW Terrebonne Bay Estuary

3/4-3/13

2,935

2007

E. Lake Pontchartrain

2/24-3/5

774

Upper Barataria Bay Estuary

3/3-3/12

724

2007 Total

1,498

2008

Upper Terrebonne Bay Estuary

2/23-3/2

1,234

2009

Terrebonne Bay Estuary

N/A

788

2010

Upper Barataria Bay Estuary

2/27-3/7

477

2011

Western Plaquemines Parish

2/26-3/5

1,100

2012

St. Bernard/Plaquemines Parish

2/25-3/5

1,961

Terrebonne Parish

3/17-3/26

747

2012 Total

2,708

2013

Plaquemines Parish

2/16-2/25

492

St. Bernard Parish

3/9-3/18

477

2013 Total

969

2014

Western Terrebonne Parish

2/15-2/24

1,051

2015

Cameron Parish

2/20-3/1

422

2016

St. Tammany / Orleans Parish

2/12-2/21

1,386

Jefferson / Lafourche Parish

2/19-2/28 1,194

2016 Total

2,580

2017

Eastern Louisiana

2/20-3/7

4,616

Western Louisiana

3/6-3/21 1,058

2017 Total

5,674

Overall Total

33,040

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