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Be the Solution and Get Involved; Helping with Derelict Crab Traps in the Gulf of Mexico

The environmental problems we face are substantial and it is easy to get overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problem. So, instead on focusing on how big the problems are, try to think of the little things you can do to make a difference. For all that nature does for us, take a day from your schedule to do something for her.

Yours truly (on the right) heading our for a day retrieving derelict crab traps from the Gulf of Mexico.

Whatever your outdoor passion, you can find a way to help in your community. Recently I had the pleasure of spending time on the Gulf of Mexico hunting down and retrieving derelict crab traps. These traps may have been abandoned or lost due to movement caused by tides or weather. Once they are lost, they quickly become a problem. They can get stuck in propellers, snag lures, and foul shrimp trawls.

Also disturbing is the "ghost fishing" that happens when these traps are lost. As long as the trap is sitting on the bottom, it is still fishing and the critters that get caught inside and die a slow painful death. This is of particular concern for the diamondback terrapin. The diamondback is listed as threatened and often lives where the targeted blue crab lives and can be caught in the same traps. This incidental catch, "by-catch," happens when species other than the target species is caught.

Since the 2000s the Gulf stages have been working to remove these traps and have removed over 60.000 traps since the programs began. Not only does this help remove the hazards, but has been found to help the health of the fishery; in the Chesapeake Bay it was found that 13,000 metric tons was added to the harvest when 34,000 derelict traps were removed.

Success! A few hours on the water and half a dozen traps won't ghost fish anymore!

So get involved and be the solution. I know my day on the water won't solve the problem, but when we all chip in we can make a difference. What I find interesting is that even after a day spent giving, I come away feeling that I still received more than I gave and that's pretty cool.

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