The Mississippi Derelict Crab Trap Removal Program has removed and recycled over 22,400 traps since its inception in 1999. It can take years for derelict crab traps to break down. Meanwhile, they can “ghost fish” which means they continue to catch crabs and other species. In addition to continuing to fish, derelict crab traps also can pose as navigational hazards or create entanglements in other gear such as shrimp nets. Removing derelict crab traps can help with reducing mortality of fish and blue crabs, improve aesthetics of waterways, and allow for safer navigation in our waters. The 2024 Program was made possible by funding from the Mississippi Tidelands Trust Fund and by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law administered through NOAA, GOMA, and GSMFC.


Working cooperatively with commercial and recreational crab fishermen to remove derelict crab traps from state waters, the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (MDMR) will conduct a crab trap closure for all crab traps in all Mississippi state waters located within one half (1/2) mile of the mainland shoreline (CSX bridge used as line for bay crossings) from 6:00 a.m. Thursday, February 15, through 6:00 a.m. Sunday, February 25, 2024.

The schedule for the removal of crab traps is as follows:
  • Feb. 15 – 21 – All commercial and recreational crab fishermen must use this time to remove their own traps from Mississippi territorial waters. As a reminder, it is illegal to remove traps licensed to another person outside of the approved trap removal dates. This will be strictly enforced.
  • Feb. 22 – 24 – All traps remaining in the closure area will be considered derelict and will be removed and recycled. Volunteers may remove remaining traps from state waters within one half (1/2) mile of the mainland shoreline during these dates. Derelict traps may be dropped off at MDMR designated sites for recycling from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. at Point Park in Pascagoula, Ocean Springs Harbor and Pleasure Street Boat Launch in Bay St. Louis.
  • Feb. 25 – Beginning at 6 a.m., all active traps may be returned to closed waters and crab fishing may resume.

Statewide maps displaying closure areas are shown below along with maps of the closure areas at the mouth of bay systems.

Click arrows to view all closure areas


Volunteers are encouraged to assist in the removal of derelict crab traps from waters located within one-half mile of the shoreline, including all bays, bayous and rivers from February 22-24.

Drop-off locations are open February 22-24, 9 AM – 4 PM

  • Pleasure Street Boat Launch, Bay St. Louis
  • Ocean Springs Harbor
  • Pascagoula Point Park

Lunch will be provided to contributing volunteers on Saturday, February 24. All contributing volunteers will receive a free hoodie. One lunch and hoodie per person. Volunteers are responsible for their own vessel.

Volunteers interested in participating in this year’s program can contact the MDMR Shrimp and Crab Bureau at (228) 374-5000 for more information.

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