Guadalupe-Blanco River Trust Leads a Successful Crab Trap Closure Effort in the San Antonio Bay
Crab Trap Recap
Guadalupe-Blanco River Trust
In late February, GBRT joined in the annual effort to remove abandoned crab traps from the San Antonio Bay.
Every year, typically starting 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. Among the reasons are 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.
It’s 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. Captained by Allan, accompanied by TPWD, and crewed by Tyler, the boat was able to haul 44 total traps that day. In a 4-day effort, Team GBRT removed 191 total traps.
Allan and his wife, Brigid, are a conservation power couple, creating positive change from their home base in Port O’Connor. They are even hospitable enough to host volunteers and guests for dinner and drinks after a hard day’s work.
The 2021 effort was a little different than most years.
The February Winter Storm created unreliable gasoline sources for crabbers to power their boats and remove their traps. TPWD pushed the closure period back from Friday to the following Monday. Also, due to the storm, volunteers observed a massive fish and sea turtle kill within the bays.
Despite the weather, traps removed in the Mid-Coast Bays totaled 1,203. GBRT focused our 48-man hours on removing from the marshes in the Guadalupe Delta.
The mission of the Guadalupe-Blanco River Trust is to preserve the unique natural heritage of the Guadalupe watershed for future generations, by protecting open landscapes, working farms and ranches, and wildlife habitat through conservation easements, education, and outreach that connects people to the water and land.