Ecosystem Considerations – Derelict Traps – FL Blue Crab

Derelict Traps

derelict traps

Crab trap loss is a factor that affects not only fishermen, but potentially the ecosystem in which traps are lost. Trap removal started in the 1990s as a state effort to remove stone crab and lobster traps, but expanded to blue crab. There are currently two programs dedicated to lost or abandoned trap removal in Florida. The Spiny Lobster, Stone Crab and Blue Crab Trap Retrieval Program run by FWC contracts commercial fishermen each year to removal fishable traps from designated zones during closed seasons (FWC). Though this program, FWC selects participant organizations through a competitive-bid process and payment to fishermen is made based on the number of traps retrieved and number of trips made for retrieval (Florida Statutes section 379.2424). FWC also maintains a Derelict Trap and Trap Debris Removal Program, which authorizes volunteer organizations to collect derelict traps during both open and closed seasons. In July 2003, rules were developed and adopted allowing for derelict trap retrieval by persons other than FWC personnel during open seasons, based on a strict definition of ‘derelict’ and prior authorization from FWC. Since the adoption of this rule, several community-led removal programs have developed across the state and over 25 trap cleanup events occurring between 2003-2008 resulting in over 1700 traps removed (Ocean Conservancy 2009). In July 2009, a new rule was adopted to create a 10 day closed season each year for the purpose of derelict trap removal.


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