Crab traps are wire cages that sit on the bottom with a float attached so they can be checked and the catch harvested. If floats are lost or crabbers stop crabbing, the crab traps, nonetheless, keep working.
"Even though the crab trap isn't being used as a fishing method it still catches things. And so what you have is mortality from a fishing gear that is just sitting idle on the bottom and never being checked, which is a waste of the resource."
Bill Balboa is with Parks and Wildlife in Dickinson.
He says they locate abandoned crab tarps by doing a fly over.
"We mark those areas of the bay where we see a concentration of crab traps and then go out an get 'em."
That's where the volunteers come in. The only time some one other than a trap owner, or a Parks and Wildlife official can take a trap is during the annual trap removal program. This year it runs for ten days from February 20th to March 1.
"Most of the time it's folks who have boats. We do have some ability to take a few volunteers. Generally on the first Saturday we will launch a couple of our own state vessels. Generally, if folks just want to come out and help, then we welcome them."
Last year volunteers removed more than 2800 traps.
To volunteer contact your local Texas Parks & Wildlife Department's Coastal Fisheries Office. In Dickinson the number is 281-534-0100. In some parts of Houston it's a pay call.