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Volunteers Needed For Louisiana's First Crab Trap Cleanup

February 15, 2004 12:00 AM

You know the feeling.  You're cruising along on one of our coastal bays or bayous on your way to the next fishing hole and you lose power.  The motor sounds funny.  You shut it down and trim it up.  It's a "#&*%#?$&*?" crab trap caught on the skeg.  The wire is wrapped around the prop.  Fortunately there appears to be no damage, and IF you can get it untangled, cut out and cleaned up, you still may be able to reach your spot before the bite is over.  Good thing you weren?t running from a squall when that trap showed up.  Things can go from merely uncomfortable to life threatening pretty fast when you're caught at the mercy of the wind and waves with a disabled motor.

It?s not necessarily anyone's fault.  With so many licensed crabbers and crab traps fishing in Louisiana's coastal waters, lost crab traps are inevitable.  The float becomes detached, the line breaks or is cut by the prop of a passing boat, storm-driven waves and shrimp trawls pick up the trap and carry it far off the line.  Then, of course, some are just carelessly left by unethical crab fishermen.  In any case, the scenario described above is all too common.  It's the bane of shrimpers and other commercial fishermen as well as recreational boaters and anglers, and its time to do something about it.

With that in mind, Act 48 of the 2003 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature was adopted authorizing the Wildlife and Fisheries Commission to declare that crab traps have been abandoned within designated coastal waters during two specified time intervals each year.  During those times, any crab traps found within the designated closure areas are subject to removal and disposal through an organized cleanup effort coordinated by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.  The first abandoned crab trap removal operation will be in the upper Terrebonne Bay estuary from Feb. 28 through March 14, 2004.  A map of the closure area can be viewed at www.blue-crab.net/derelict.html along with more details about the program.  From west to east, some of the waters included are Lake Boudreaux, the north shore of Lake Barre, most of Lake Felicity, the north shore of Lake Raccourci, Catfish Lake near Golden Meadow and all the bayous, lakes and canals in between.

The success of the cleanup will depend on volunteers who are willing to use their boats to retrieve the traps and shuttle them to a drop-off barge or dock, and additional hands to assist with loading and unloading and other chores.  This will be serious and hard work with utmost attention to safety required.  Some supplies will be provided, but volunteers should plan to bring protective gloves, eye protection and clothing suitable to the weather and conditions.  Tools like wire cutters, push poles, gaffs and grappling or "ninja" hooks on a strong line would also be useful.  Those volunteering use of their boats should consider covering the deck and gunnel with a tarp to prevent marring when bringing the traps aboard.  More details on work supplies needed, designated landings and drop-off points in the closure area where the activity will be concentrated, liability release form and other information will be provided to the volunteers at the beginning of February.

The Abandoned Crab Trap Removal Program is a great opportunity for recreational anglers, duck hunters, commercial fishermen and others who enjoy the bounty of our coastal waters to work together and make a difference in improving the quality and safety of the environment we all share.  So pick a day or weekend or two from Feb. 28-Mar. 14 to come to the marshes of South Terrebonne and lend a hand.  Due to the organizational complexities of this effort, volunteers are asked to make a commitment in advance and sign up early.  To volunteer or learn more about the program contact the Louisiana Wildlife Federation at 225/344-6762; lwf@lawildlifefed.org or the blue crab web site www.blue-crab.net/derelict.html

Tentative designated disposal sites: Cozy Campers Campground on Lapeyrouse Canal located on Hwy. 56 between Chauvin and Cocodrie; Seabreeze Marina on Bayou Terrebonne located on Hwy. 55 south of Madison Canal; Point au Chene Marina on Cut Off canal located at the end of Hwy. 665; Josh's Marina on canal leading to Catfish Lake located behind the Crab Shack on Hwy. 3235 in Golden Meadow.  Volunteers may remove traps on any day during the closure period, but Saturday, February 28 and Saturday, March 6 will be the main volunteer days.


 
 
 
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