Upcoming Derelict Crab Trap Program Closure

Upcoming Derelict Crab Trap Closure

  

 

LDWF Plans Three Crab Trap Closures Along the Louisiana Coast

Release Date: 09/03/2015

September 3, 2015- At today’s meeting, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission adopted a Notice of Intent that targets three different areas along Louisiana’s coast.  The first closure will take place in the eastern portion of Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Catherine and adjacent marshes and will begin at 6:00 am Friday, February 12, 2016 through 6:00 am February 21, 2016.  The second closure will take place in the upper Barataria basin centered near Lafitte and will begin at 6:00 am February 19, 2016 through 6:00 am February 28, 2016.  The last closure will take place in Sabine Lake to allow Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to conduct a cleanup of Sabine Lake.  In order to conduct the cleanup, both the Louisiana and Texas sides of Sabine Lake will be temporarily closed to the use of crab traps so staff and volunteers can conduct the cleanup without confusion. The Sabine Lake crab trap closure is scheduled to begin at 6:00 am February 19, 2016 through 6:00 am February 28, 2016.

Since 2004, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, together with individual volunteers and organizations, has successfully removed and disposed of over 24,645 abandoned and derelict crabs. The removal of these crab traps is especially important to boating safety and crab harvesting efforts. Last year, LDWF and Louisiana Sea Grant staff, volunteers, CCA and members of the recreational fishing community assisted in retrieving more than 400 abandoned crab traps.

Lake Pontchartrain Crab Trap Removal

The use of crab traps will be prohibited in the following area beginning at 6 a.m., February 12 through 6 a.m., February 21, 2016:

  • From a point originating from the intersection of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge and the southern shoreline of Lake Pontchartrain; thence eastward along the southern shoreline of Lake Pontchartrain to Chef Menteur Pass; thence southward along the western shoreline of Chef Menteur Pass to Lake Borgne; thence due south a distance of one-half mile from the Lake Borgne shoreline; thence eastward and then northward a distance of one-half mile from the Lake Borgne shoreline to a point due east of Catfish Point; thence northwesterly across Rigolets Pass to the southeastern most point of land on Hog Island; thence westward along the northern shoreline of Rigolets Pass to its intersection with U.S. Highway 90;  thence northward along U.S. Highway 90 to its intersection with U.S. Highway 190 (Fremaux Avenue); thence westerly along U.S. Highway 190 to Military Road; thence northward on Military road to U.S. Highway 190 (Gause Boulevard); thence westward on U.S. Highway 190 (Gause Boulevard) to Causeway Boulevard; thence southward along Causeway Boulevard and then the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge and terminating at its intersection with the southern shoreline of Lake Pontchartrain.

 

Barataria Basin Crab Trap Removal

The use of crab traps will be prohibited in the following area beginning at 6 a.m., February 19 through 6 a.m., February 28, 2016:

  • From a point originating from the intersection of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and the northern shoreline of Hero Canal; thence due north to a point along the northern shoreline of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway; thence southward and then westward along the northern shoreline of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway to a point opposite the western shoreline of Bayou Perot; thence due south to the western shoreline of Bayou Perot; thence southward along the western shoreline of Bayou Perot to Little Lake; thence southward along the western shoreline of Little Lake to 29 degrees, 30 minutes, 00 seconds north latitude; thence eastward along 29 degrees, 30 minutes, 00 seconds north latitude to the eastern shoreline of Wilkinson Canal; thence northward along the eastern shoreline of Wilkinson Canal to its termination; thence due north to the western shore of the Mississippi River; thence northwestward along the western shore of the Mississippi River to a point due east of the northern shoreline of Hero Canal; thence due west to the northern shoreline of Hero Canal; thence westward along the northern shoreline of Hero Canal and terminating at its intersection with the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

Sabine Lake Crab Trap Removal

The use of crab traps will be prohibited in the following area beginning at 6 a.m., February 19 through 6 a.m., February 28, 2016:

  • From a point originating from the intersection of the southern side of LA Highway 82 and the eastern shore of Sabine Lake, thence north along the eastern shoreline of Sabine Lake to its intersection with East Pass, thence due north to Sabine Island, thence west along the southern shoreline of Sabine Island to its westward most point, thence due west to the Texas state line, thence south along the Louisiana / Texas state line to its intersection with LA Highway 82, thence east along the southern side of LA Highway 82 and terminating at its intersection with the eastern shore of Sabine Lake.  

 

 

All crab traps remaining in the closed area during the specified period will be considered abandoned.

In the weeks leading up to the closure, LDWF will mail notices to all licensed recreational and commercial crab trap license holders and crab buyers within affected parishes as well as non-resident licensed crab fishermen who fish Louisiana waters and reside in Texas.

These proposed trap removal regulations do not provide authorization for access to private property. Authorization to access private property can only be provided by individual landowners.

Crab traps may be removed only between one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. Anyone may remove these abandoned crab traps from within the closed area. Abandoned traps must be brought to LDWF designated disposal sites and may not be taken from the closed area.

The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana's abundant natural resources. For more information, visit us at www.wlf.louisiana.gov, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ldwffb, or follow us on Twitter @LDWF. 

Interested persons may submit written comments relative to the proposed rule to Mr. Jeffrey Marx, Marine Fisheries Biologist DCL-B, Marine Fisheries Section, 2415 Darnall Rd., New Iberia, LA 70560, or via e-mail to:  jmarx@wlf.la.gov prior to November 1, 2015.  For press inquiries contact Ashley Wethey at awethey@wlf.la.gov or (504) 286-8733.

 

Historical Success of the Program

Crab traps were introduced in Louisiana as early as 1948 and their use became widely accepted by the mid-1950s.  By the mid-1960s, crab traps had become the dominant gear in the fishery in terms of landings.  From the late 1970s through the present, trap landings have contributed over 99% of total blue crab and stone crab landings. Crab traps had several advantages over other gears (trotlines or drop nets) used to harvest blue crabs, including increased catch rates, ability to fish over a wide range of conditions, mobility, flexibility in work hours, and lower manpower requirements.

Large numbers of crab traps are lost or abandoned each year due to variety of reasons.  Trap loss may result from extreme weather conditions such as tropical storms or hurricanes.  Strong wind and wave action may displace traps or cause them to roll along the bottom submerging the buoy line and buoy.  Accidental clipping of the buoy lines by passing vessels, displacement of traps caught in shrimp gear, vandalism, improper disposal of old, unfishable traps and simple abandonment by fishermen leaving the fishery are other causes of trap loss. 

Since the vinyl coated wire mesh comprising modern crab traps may take years to degrade, the removal of these derelict and abandoned crab traps is especially important to boating safety and crab harvesting efforts. Removal of these traps reduces ghost fishing mortality of blue crabs and other marine organisms, reduces hazards to safe navigation and conflicts with other fishing gear and user groups and improves visual esthetics of state waterways.

Examples of derelict traps may range from a discarded “dry trap” tossed onto a shoreline to a submerged oyster-encrusted unfishable trap with or without line and buoy to a relatively new and fishable trap with buoy line and buoy.

Provisions in R.S. 56:332 provide authority to the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission (LWFC) to establish a program for the removal of derelict crab traps.  Two time windows are provided for the closures:

  • up to a 16 consecutive day period between February 1 and March 31,
  • up to a 14 consecutive day period which includes the opening of the spring inshore shrimp season.

Provisions in the statute also specify that the LWFC designate the following:

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

Derelict Crab Trap Removal Program Cleanup Areas (2004-2014)

 

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Annual derelict crab trap closure areas, dates, and trap totals.

 

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

411

2013 Total

 

903

2014

Western Terrebonne Parish

2/15-2/24

1,051

2004-2013

OVERALL

 

24,211

 

Support for individual volunteers and volunteer organizations have significantly contributed to the success of the derelict crab trap removal program; however, new approaches will need to be examined and implemented in order to more effectively deal with the problems of derelict crab traps.

 

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