Derelict Crab Trap Removal

2019 Volunteer Derelict Crab Trap Cleanups

LDWF will host its annual Derelict Crab Trap Rodeo with two volunteer cleanup events in February 2019:

  • Saturday, February 2, 2019 from 8 am to 3 pm at the Plaquemines Parish boat launch located behind Port Sulphur High School on Civic Drive.
  • Saturday, February 16, 2019 from 8 am to 3 pm at Toby’s Oyster Dock located near the end of Hwy 315 in Dularge.

LDWF encourages volunteers to participate in the cleanups to help keep our Sportsman’s Paradise pristine. Volunteers will help collect traps in the field, unload traps at the dock, and count traps as they are unloaded. LDWF highly encourages commercial crabbers to volunteer—their experience with local waters and ability to stack traps on their vessels are valuable. Event organizers will provide boat owners with the equipment needed to collect traps; however, boat owners are responsible for transporting traps in their vessels. 

Removing abandoned crab traps is a wet and dirty job, so please wear appropriate clothing and wet gear. Volunteers should bring their own personal flotation device, which should be worn at all times while on the water. A free t-shirt and lunch will be provided to all volunteers as a small token of appreciation for their help to keep our waterways free and clean of derelict crab traps.

Register online to volunteer. If you are interested in sponsoring one or both cleanup events, please contact Peyton Cagle at 337-491-2575 or before December 31, 2018.

2019 Proposed Derelict Crab Trap Closures

See specific details and dates for 2019 proposed derelict crab trap closures.

View an interactive map of 2019 proposed derelict crab trap closures.

Static maps of 2019 proposed derelict crab trap closures are below; click each one to enlarge.



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 37,000 traps.

Year Area(s) Traps Boat Days
2004 2 6,894 90+
2005 4 4,623 50+
2006 1 2,935 31+
2007 2 1,495 15
2008 1 1,234 3
2009 1 788 N/A
2010 1 477 N/A
2011 1 1,100 N/A
2012 2 2,798 66
2013 2 969 32
2014 1 1,051 24
2015 1 422 9
2016 3 2,580 50+
2017 6 5,674 68
2018 5 4,061 68
Total 33 37,101 506+