More than 2,500 abandoned crab traps removed from La. waters

Published: Mar. 16, 2016 at 2:30 AM CDT|Updated: Mar. 16, 2016 at 2:38 AM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, LA (WVUE) - Over the course of two February weekends, volunteers, staff and members of the commercial fishing industry report they retrieved more than 2,500 traps during the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries' annual Derelict Crab Trap Rodeo.

Two events were held on separate Saturdays, but cleanup efforts continued in the designated areas throughout the closure period.

The Lake Pontchartrain cleanup, headed by the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, was based out of Pelican Pointe Marina in Orleans Parish on February 13. Volunteers from the Basin Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and local chapters of the Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana worked with LDWF personnel to collect 554 traps during the event, and as the collection continues, officials report an additional 832 traps were collected during the closure for a grand total of 1,386 traps removed.

John Lopez with the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation said, "Picking up the ghost traps is hard, but very rewarding work. We thank all the volunteers and sponsors who support this worthwhile effort."

The Barataria Basin cleanup, headed by the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program, was staged out of Jean Lafitte Harbor in Jefferson Parish on February 20. Volunteers and commercial crabbers worked in coordination with the Department to collect 874 traps. During the remaining closure period, an additional 320 traps were collected, for a total of 1,194 traps removed.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries initiated the volunteer-based Derelict Crab Trap Removal Program in 2004 to address removal of derelict and abandoned crab traps. The program is funded in part by the sale of Louisiana commercial and recreational crab fishing licenses. Since the program's inception, volunteers have assisted in removing nearly 27,366 traps. Wildlife agents say removal of these traps is imperative since they increase ghost-fishing mortality of blue crabs and other species captured incidentally, interfere with other commercial fishing gear types, create navigational hazards and reduce visual appeal of the environment.

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