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Clab Laws

Florida Crab Laws

FWC approves stone crab regulation changes; effective Oct. 1, 2020

Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission sent this bulletin at 07/22/2020 01:08 PM EDT

For immediate release: July 22, 2020

Suggested Tweet: Changes to stone crab regulations made by @MyFWC: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/FLFFWCC/bulletins/296e41c #Florida #fishing #FWC2020

FWC approves stone crab regulation changes; effective Oct. 1

At its July meeting, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved changes to recreational and commercial stone crab regulations.

Florida’s stone crab fishery has experienced a long-term decline in harvest and is likely undergoing overfishing. FWC staff worked with stakeholders on these changes that are intended to increase the stone crab population and build resiliency in the fishery.

Approved changes go into effect Oct. 1, 2020, and include:

  • Moving the season end date from May 15 to May 1, closed on May 2.
  • Requiring a 2 3/16-inch escape ring in all plastic and wood stone crab traps before the start of the 2023/2024 season.
  • Increasing the minimum claw size limit by 1/8 inches from 2 3/4 inches to 2 7/8
  • Limiting possession of whole stone crabs on the water to two checker boxes, each up to 3 feet by 2 feet by 2 feet OR a total volume of 24 cubic feet.
  • Checker boxes are used to hold crabs on board a vessel before they are measured and legal-sized claws are removed.
  • Learn more about stone crab regulations at MyFWC.com/Marine.

For the full July 22-23 agenda, including links to background reports, go to MyFWC.com/About and click on “The Commission” and “Commission Meetings.”

The following information is intended to provide recreational fishermen with a basic understanding of the laws and regulations related to harvesting Stone Crabs in Florida waters.

Stone Crabs are one of Florida’s few renewable saltwater resources and it is important to understand how to properly harvest them.

The information below is not intended to fully explain all the rules and regulations for harvesting Stone Crab claws nor is it intended to provide the most current information on regulatory updates, but we hope that it will help provide some basic information to make you more knowledgeable about this resource.

Whether you are an active crabber or if you are just thinking about getting started, it’s important for everyone to know the rules.

More detailed information is available at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) website.

What Stoners Need to Know!

Yes. To recreationally harvest Stone Crabs, you must have a valid Florida Saltwater Recreational Fishing License. Go to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Website for more information on obtaining a Florida Saltwater Recreational Fishing License.

Yes. In Florida, the Stone Crab season starts October 15 and runs thru May 15. Traps can be set 10 days prior to the opening of the season but crabs cannot be harvested prior to the start of the season or after the close of the season.

No. Only legal-sized claws can be harvested. The crab must be safely returned to the water. The crab will grow new claw(s) and that’s what makes this a renewable resource. It is important to know how to properly harvest claw(s) because if done incorrectly, it can mortality injure the crab and it will die after it is released back into the water. There is a video on the FWC website on how to harvest claw(s) without injuring the crab.

Please see the latest information from the link below:

https://myfwc.com/research/saltwater/crustaceans/stone-crabs/faq/

Check your local fishing supply store for more information.

Yes. Both claws can be harvested if they are of legal size. However, harvesting both claws limits this renewable resource’s ability to protect itself and catch food. Harvesting only one claw provides a better chance for the crab to survive to regrow its claw that can be harvested once it is of legal size.

Yes. Harvesting claws from an egg-bearing female crab is illegal. The crab must be released unharmed. Female crabs carry their eggs underneath their body and the eggs are usually brown or orange.

Yes. The daily bag limit is 1 gallon per fisherman or 2 gallons per boat, whichever is less. Both the bag limit and size limit apply in Gulf State and Atlantic State waters.

It is legal to catch Stone Crabs in a trap, or with a dip or landing net. Any device (i.e. spear, hooks, other) which can damage or crush the crab’s shell is illegal. All crabs must be released back into the water after harvesting claw(s).

Yes. Each recreational fisherman is allowed to set up to 5 traps.

Yes. See the FWC website for information on trap specifications and requirements.

Yes. Traps can only be pulled during daylight hours. Recreational fishermen are prohibited from having mechanical devices (i.e. winches) to assist in raising the traps up to the boat. Traps must be pulled up manually.

Yes. Traps should not be placed in navigational channels. These could include county, municipal, or state marked waterways. It is also important not to set traps in areas of high boat traffic. This increases the probability that a buoy may be hit and damaged to where the trap is no longer visible or retrievable from the surface.

Unless you possess a commercial license to harvest and sell Stone Crabs, it is illegal to sell recreationally harvested claws.

Although there are no specific laws regarding the following topics, it is important to understand the “unwritten rules of the water” so that everyone can enjoy this resource. There are many commercial fishermen who make their living harvesting stone crabs and many recreational fishermen who harvest stone crabs as a sport and it is important that we all understand and respect one another.

It is important to be aware of the area around you when setting traps. You should keep a good distance from any traps already set and it is recommended to keep at least 50’ away from other buoys. If existing traps are set in a line, do not cross thru the existing set when placing traps.