Derelict Crab Trap Removal


2020 Proposed Derelict Crab Trap Closures

See specific details and dates for the 2020 proposed derelict crab trap closures.

Static maps of 2020 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+