Ever wondered what it’s like to clean up lost crab traps?

A few weeks ago, staff from the UF IFAS Nature Coast Biological Station​, UF IFAS Extension Taylor County​, Florida Sea Grant​, and the St. Martins Marsh and Big Bend Seagrasses Aquatic Preserves​ conduced a derelict crab trap cleanup in Steinhatchee, FL. Check out the video below to see what it was like…

Why are these cleanups needed?

Recreational and commercial crab traps are sometimes accidentally lost during storms or through normal wear and tear. These traps remain in the environment and cause needless death of animals, known as “ghost fishing”. To reduce these impacts, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has a program to allow removal or cleanup of derelict crab traps. All cleanups require a permit from FWC. This is to prevent removal of active traps. Once a permit has been obtained, traps are usually collected at low tide so that they can be easily located and removed. Traps that comply with regulations are left in the water, only derelict traps are removed.

The cleanup in Steinhatchee in the video above removed 47 derelict traps and identified over 100 individual bycatch specimens including blue crabs, stone crabs, spider crabs, crown conchs, lightning whelks, tulip snails, juvenile snappers, sheepshead, toadfish, blenny, and various shrimp. Unfortunately, much of this by-catch was dead but several critters were rescued and the removal of these traps will prevent them from further ghost fishing.

Want to help with future efforts?

  • Do not remove traps from the environment without a permit. Instead, take a GPS location or make a note of the general area and send the info to me by email.
  • Get in touch by email if you want to be involved – you can volunteer with future cleanups. We especially need volunteers with airboats but any hands are welcome!