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Retrieval of Lost Traps and Trap Debris

examples of lobster trap debris
(A) A lost lobster trap. (B) Trap debris washed ashore after a storm.

The Spiny Lobster, Stone Crab and Blue Crab Trap Retrieval Program

  • Contracts commercial fishermen to remove lost or abandoned traps from state waters during closed seasons.
  • An FWC observer is onboard vessels for each retrieval trip to verify the traps retrieved.
  • The retrieval operations mainly remove buoyed traps after each fishing season has ended.

The Derelict Trap and Trap Debris Removal Program

  • Authorizes organizations and volunteer groups to organize clean-up events.
  • When authorized, clean-up events can collect derelict traps and trap debris during open or closed fishing seasons:
  • In-water clean-ups can occur throughout the closed season, except during the two weeks immediately after the season has ended (stone crab and lobster).
  • Shoreline clean-ups can occur during open or closed season.
  • Volunteers must follow specific rules when removing derelict traps and trap debris.

WARNING: Did you know that it is a felony to tamper with traps that don't belong to you? Tampering with traps (or their contents), lines or buoys without written permission could result in a revocation of your fishing privileges, a fine of up to $5,000 and a third degree felony conviction.

To report illegal activity, call: 1-888-404-FWCC

Trap Retrieval Program Challanges

  • Retrieval efforts mainly recover traps that still have their buoys. Fishable traps that no longer have buoys, i.e. ghost traps, are difficult to find, and are not targeted by the Spiny Lobster, Stone Crab and Blue Crab Trap Retrieval Program.
  • It is estimated that several hundred thousand traps are lost annually, with more loss in years with hurricanes. More traps are lost than are retrieved, allowing traps and trap debris to accumulate harming marine life, fishermen’s catch, boating navigation and marine habitats.

Further Information on Trap Retrieval

Trap Retrieval Program

Trap Retrieval Rules