GBRT removes abandoned crab traps in San Antonio Bay

By Tyler Sanderson, Executive Director – Guadalupe-Blanco River Trust

In late February, the Guadalupe-Blanco River Trust (GBRT) joined in the annual effort to remove abandoned crab traps from the San Antonio Bay. GBRT’s contribution to the program was supported by the CITGO Caring for Our Coasts Gulf Region Grants Program. Every year on the third Friday in February, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, with the authority granted from Senate Bill 1410, administers a 10-day crab trap closure. Crab traps left in the water during this time are considered abandoned or derelict and can be removed.

This closure is important because it gives volunteers like us the ability to remove traps that might otherwise stay in the waters forever.

Abandoned or lost traps are a problem for many reasons, including visual pollution, damage to boat motors, user conflicts, and negative impacts on habitats. Of major importance, when left in the water, creatures find themselves trapped inside and basically become bait, attracting more creatures to the trap to become more bait. The process is called ghost fishing and can go on and on until the trap is removed or damaged. Some estimate that the average abandoned trap kills between two and four dozen crabs a year.

The movement was initiated by Ronnie Luster, one of our very own board members, who took a short airboat ride in 2000 and counted 1,800 abandoned traps. He started this movement as a member of the Coastal Conservation Association and it has grown to a Gulf-coast-wide effort. Its that kind of care for the environment and determination to make it better that makes GBRT proud to have him on Board. He even took to the water this year.

GBRT is also proud to partner with the San Antonio Bay Partnership (SABP) who is now the main coordinator of the effort in the Texas Mid-Coast region. “Allan Berger [SABP Board Chair] has created a wonderful program” says Ronnie Luster. “He has streamlined volunteer involvement and added technology to help collect data and learn more about effectiveness in the future.”

Our executive director, Tyler Sanderson, was lucky enough to hop on his boat for a day. There are many dedicated organizations and individual volunteer who take part in the removal effort each year. The specific effort of the SABP has included outreach and education to the crabbers and has resulted in the number of traps removed dropping a little each year.

Thanks to support from CITGO Caring for Our Coasts Gulf Region Grants Program, over 20 volunteers were supported with gear and equipment. In total, 1,047 traps were removed in the Mid-Coast Bays.