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Stone crab season ends Saturday

The latter half of the season crashed when travel and restaurants were restricted by COVID 19

Legal harvest of stone crab claws ends until October 15th
Legal harvest of stone crab claws ends until October 15th (WJXT)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Decadent, delicious, stone crab claws - yet another thing Coronavirus robbed us of. The season for stone crab claw harvest ends Saturday, May 16th. With the travel restrictions, stay at home orders, and restaurant closures we’ve faced the past few months- it would have been quite difficult to get your paws on some claws to enjoy.

Due to the low distribution and ability to acquire, we did see some of the lowest prices in a decade on the tasty morsels. But just like the cheap flight deals floating around, you couldn’t really take advantage.

If you are planning ahead for better times, the season reopens Oct 15th, and you can make sure you are never without the option again by acquiring a license and trap of your own for recreational harvest.

New Requirements for Recreational Traps

Recreational fishers age 16 and older (including those normally exempt from needing a license) are required to complete an online, no-cost recreational stone and/or blue crab trap registration before using stone or blue crab traps.

To register, visit GoOutdoorsFlorida.com and add the Recreational Stone Crab Trap Registration or the Recreational Blue Crab Trap Registration to your fishing license account.

Upon completion, each person will receive unique trap registration numbers that must be included on each trap along with the owner’s full name and address. Registration numbers for stone crab traps will begin with the letter “S”; registration numbers for blue crab traps will begin with the letter “B.” This information must be legible and must be permanently attached to each trap.

This no-cost registration will allow FWC to collect important information about these recreational fisheries needed for future stock assessments and management decisions.

Regulations

Minimum Size Limit: 2 3/4" claw

Daily Bag Limit: 1 gallon of claws per person or 2 gallons per vessel, whichever is less

Harvest from egg-bearing crabs prohibited.

State Waters Harvest Seasons: Open Oct. 15 - May 15

Traps may be placed in the water 10 days prior to the opening of the season, but once placed, you may not tend to the traps until the start of the season, at which time you may begin harvesting.

Gear Requirements:

  • Legal Gear: stone crab trap (max. 5 per person), dip or landing net
  • Illegal Gear: Any device that can puncture, crush or injure the crab body, such as spears, grains, grabs, hooks or similar devices.

Trap Specifications

  • Maximum trap size is 24 inches by 24 inches by 24 inches or a volume of 8 cubic feet
  • Traps can be made from either wood, wire or plastic
  • The throat or entrance must be 5 ½ inches by 3 ½ inches
  • Throat must be 5 1/2 by 3 1/8 inches in Collier, Monroe and Miami-Dade
  • If the throat or entrance is round, it cannot exceed 5 inches in diameter
  • Round throats prohibited in Collier, Monroe and Miami-Dade counties
  • The trap must have a degradable panel that is 5 ½ inches by 3 ½ inches and is made of cypress or untreated pine slat no thicker than ¾ of an inch
  • Harvester name and address must be permanently affixed and legible
  • NEW: FWC-issued unique trap registration number must also be permanently affixed to the trap and legible 
  • The buoy must be no smaller than 6 inches and must be marked with a legible “R” that is at least 2 inches tall.
  • Buoys are not required if trap is fished from a dock.

Trapping Regulations

  • Traps must be pulled manually (not by a trap-puller). Any vessel that is rigged with a trap-puller will be considered a commercial vessel and the appropriate licenses will be required.
  • Traps must be pulled only during daylight hours.
  • Traps must not be placed in navigational channels of the Intracoastal waterways, or in navigational channels maintained and marked by any county, municipal, state or federal governmental agency.

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