Southwest Floridians who like to boat, fish or catch crabs should be aware that the state will be closing the blue crab trap fishery briefly in July and will be out cleaning up derelict crab traps.
The July 10-19 event will involve removing discarded traps and those lost or abandoned in disrepair from Lee County's mangroves, back bays and passes. The effort will happen with staff and volunteers from Florida Sea Grant, UF/IFAS Lee County Extension, Charlotte Harbor and Estero Bay Aquatic Preserves and other organizations.
"This applies to commercial crabbers who are well informed about it and recreational crabbers, who we have noticed historically didn't know about this regional blue crab trap fishery closure. So we want to make recreational crabbers aware that they need to pull their traps and inform boaters who frequent our waterways," said Joy Hazell, Florida Sea Grant Agent.
State law says tampering with a trap that doesn't belong to you is illegal unless it's during a state-approved cleanup. The idea is that every other year the trap fishery will close for 10 days and everyone will pull their traps so the staff and volunteers can identify and remove all derelict traps found in Lee County waters during the closure. The effort will help reduce marine debris in the estuaries.
If you know where a derelict trap is located and would like to report it, or if you want more information, contact Hazell at (239) 533-7518 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For additional information, visit these websites:
Derelict Trap Removal Program: myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/trap-debris/
Volunteer Removal Program and Regional Closures: myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/trap-debris/volunteer-program/
Florida Sea Grant is part of the UF/IFAS Lee County Extension, which falls under the umbrella of Lee County Parks & Recreation. For more information on parks, preserves, boat ramps and paddlecraft launches, visit www.leeparks.org or call (239) 533-7275.