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Old 09-05-2008, 08:04   #1
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Crab Traps

are they a danger to navigation? I live and sail in north florida on the st. johns river. last weekend I snagged one on my prop and was lucky to disentangle it when I put the engine in reverse. there are hundreds of them in the main channel. does anybody know if the placement of these things are regulated?
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Old 09-05-2008, 08:12   #2
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Biscayne Bay. Crab Traps and nets.

A few weeks ago, we went to the keys via Biscayne Bay. We returned at night up through Jewfish Creek, Biscayne Bay, etc.

After Miami, it is mostly no wake, so it wasn't a little further north until we noticed that our starbord shaft had this aweful vibration when we went fast enough to make a wake. We favored Port, as it was late at night. The next day we pulled this huge pile of netting off the shaft.

Going up Biscayne bay at night, it is pretty hard to see and avoid the crab pots. I guess it just is what it is. Be sure to have snorkel gear and a knife at all times.
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Old 09-05-2008, 08:23   #3
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Fish and crab traps are not supposed to be laid in a channel. If you find that they are, you should notify the Coast Guard and/or the Marine Police who will generally come and remove them.

Sailing at night outside of channels in Florida inland waters can really be problematical. If we have to do so, we generally post a watch at the bow with a spot-light unless there is very good moon light. Floats are supposed to have reflective paint/tape to make them easier to spot at night although, frankly, we rarely find that to be so. SO far, we've been lucky.

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Old 09-05-2008, 08:28   #4
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This is the one time it makes sense to lock the props (if you are underway sailing at night).

If you are motoring at night, it's just a crapshoot no matter where you are, if anywhere near land.

I got really PO'd only once at the placement of traps. It was in Newport. Some jack@ss was dropping them right in the anchorage. I called the Harbormaster on that one. Don't know if it helped, but I reported it anyway.

It's a fine line. They need to put their traps out, but when they do put them center channel, then I feel it's their own risk. I mean look... a huge powerboat or commercial vessel comes through the channel and it's going to eat their trap floats and lines for breakfast. I'm considering installing some kind of cutters on my props since they freewheel when I'm sailing, but I have an ethical problem... what if I don't see a trap and it's in the right spot and I cut it. Kind of a jerk move too.
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Old 09-05-2008, 10:10   #5
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We were motoring up to Cape Sable from Key West in dead calm seas when we got the prop rapped in a trap. I was preparing to go over the side when it just came loose. Lucky... the water was COLD. From there up to Marco Island was like threading a mine field. OUr current boat has an outboard but if I ever have an inboard again, I will definitely have cutters on the shaft.

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Old 09-05-2008, 10:15   #6
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It's a fine line. They need to put their traps out, but when they do put them center channel, then I feel it's their own risk. I mean look... a huge powerboat or commercial vessel comes through the channel and it's going to eat their trap floats and lines for breakfast. I'm considering installing some kind of cutters on my props since they freewheel when I'm sailing, but I have an ethical problem... what if I don't see a trap and it's in the right spot and I cut it. Kind of a jerk move too.
Not to mention that a lost trap is a continual killing machine. It kills a lot of marine life for a very long time.
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Old 09-05-2008, 10:58   #7
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Nothing jerky about cutting free a trap in the channel. From the lower keys all the way to Green Cove Springs on the St. Johns there are traps in the channel. Just another reason I like to go outside when I can.
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Old 09-05-2008, 11:18   #8
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Not to mention that a lost trap is a continual killing machine. It kills a lot of marine life for a very long time.
Absolutely! I wasn't thinking about that. Anyone who fouls a trap or cuts one loose should think about that. If the trap isn't hauled up or somehow destroyed, it will kill sea creatures until it is full of dead ones... and then more of them if the dead ones decay and make room.

Very VERY bad for the environment to leave a trap abandoned on the sea floor.

It's a tough question. Maybe haul it up and eat whatever is inside, set the float again and leave a "f*$& you" note in there for the owner? ha ha
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Old 09-05-2008, 11:41   #9
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Very VERY bad for the environment to leave a trap abandoned on the sea floor.

It's a tough question. Maybe haul it up and eat whatever is inside, set the float again and leave a "f*$& you" note in there for the owner? ha ha
I say cut it in half to acess the "catch" and toss it back. Collect the float and line for later disposal. If you want to take the time, the float has identifying numbers. I doubt I would take the time. I have it now but plan to not have it if I am sailing once again.
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Old 09-05-2008, 12:08   #10
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I was born and raised in the Fla Keys and in 39+ years of running boats there, back when they didn't have trap limits like they do now, I have never fouled a trap. All you have to do is keep your head out of your a** and you won't foul them...
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Old 09-05-2008, 12:21   #11
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I don't know, but I think the "not in a channel" thing might be local or state dependant.

I, also, have never hit a trap buoy (that I'm aware of), or atleast never got tangled in one. I agree with several of the posts above. I don't want to hit one for several reasons.

Many of the people that put those traps out are making a hard-won living doing it. They are getting regulated out of a livelyhood, and with polution, it gets harder and harder. They have jerks that try to swamp them while they are hauling up traps. People that ignore the floats and just run over them. So, when they put them in the channel, I try to remember that right there may be a good fishing spot and it might make a huge difference in their income. BUT, they take the risk, too. If it's at night and I hit one, I don't get too choked up about it (except for the ecological reasons stated in other posts).

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Old 09-05-2008, 13:30   #12
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Therapy and Dacust,
Both good points.
Santana,
I'm reasonably sure where my head is... just forward of the starboard bulkhead
You can't see a trap that has drifted into water just deep enough to submerge the float but not deep enough to clear the prop. Rare, but it happened to me. Generally though, I agree. If traps are in the area, one should keep a sharp lookout.

As for setting them in the channel, that's a no no.

mm
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Old 09-05-2008, 14:03   #13
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I had caught a trap in my prop and Sea Tow made some money. Fishermen usually try to keep the traps in deep enough water so the trap is not exposed during low tide. Crabs die quickly when out of the water. This means as close to the channel as possible. The problem develops when a strong wind and current start the trap moving. That is what happened to me. The water was rough and it was night.

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Old 09-05-2008, 14:15   #14
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I was born and raised in the Fla Keys and in 39+ years of running boats there, back when they didn't have trap limits like they do now, I have never fouled a trap. All you have to do is keep your head out of your a** and you won't foul them...

During the day this is a no brainer and I'd agree. It's nightime sailing that's the killer. Some of these crabbers don't use either reflective paints or high contrast paints. You just don't see them until it's too late.
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Old 09-05-2008, 14:17   #15
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There's channels and there's Marked Channels. I know about fifty owners and crew who got together and filed formal protests against a USCG boat after the USCG forcibly cancelled a race after a small fuel tanker complained "they're blocking the channel". USCG District Office formally apologized, because as the racers said, there was NO FORMAL CHANNEL MARKED ON THE CHARTS and without that formal recognition of a channel--you are not in a "channel" as far as the law is concerned.

If the crab pots are in a designated channel, you can probably protest and have them cleared. If they are simply "in the way" that's something you have to deal with. Prop cage, spurs, daylight passage and evasive actions...But first you have to find out what the legal status of them is. Odds are, they have a right to be there and you've just got to figure out how to deal with them.
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