Researchers Removing Derelict Crab Traps

Each year 250,000 crab traps are abandoned in the Gulf of Mexico. If you're a boater, you know how hazardous these traps are to navigation. This week, DMR and Gulf Coast Research Laboratory are working together to remove thousands of derelict crab traps in Mississippi coastal waters.

Out on Davis Bayou and into Biloxi bay, abandoned traps are easy to find.

"Because Davis bayou is shallow, we're going to be using not only shallow draft boats but canoes and kayaks, john boats, skiffs anything that we can get into the water to get up in the shallows to remove these traps," Director for the Center for Fisheries Research & Development Harriet Perry said.

Steve Vanderkooy is on one of those kayaks. He says after this year we will see fewer traps in the water.

"We use the kayaks and the canoes to find the real shallow water traps when the tides is low, the boats can't get in, we draw two, two and a half, three inches of water, we can get in a lot closer and mark them," Vanderkooy said.

This is the first time Mississippi has closed crab trap season to get rid of old traps. It also allows scientists to learn about their effects on the environment.

"It could pose a biological hazard, so one of the things the biologists are doing is, over the next few days, they have a data card. When they pull up a trap and recover it, they're counting what's inside and they're identifying the type of marine life that's inside the traps," Lauren Thompson of DMR said.

"The traps continue to fish, so they kill not only fish but other blue crabs that are trapped and can't get out. They're a navigation hazard, they're unsightly," Perry said.

After these 'unsightly traps' are removed, they're stored to be used again, or recycled.

DMR and the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory are seeking volunteers to help in "Crab Trap Clean Up Day" this Saturday. For more information, you can contact DMR at 374-5000.