Stone Crab Season Opens Oct. 15 in State, Federal Waters
By FWC // October 8, 2014
ABOVE VIDEO: FWC demonstrates how to harvest a stone crab claw.
TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA — Florida’s recreational and commercial stone crab claw harvest season opens Oct. 15 in state and federal waters.
To be harvested, stone crab claws must be at least 2¾ inches in length when measured from the elbow to the tip of the lower immovable portion of the claw (see illustration).
Claws may not be taken from egg-bearing stone crabs. Egg-bearing females are identifiable by the orange or brown egg mass, also known as a “sponge,” which is visible on the underside of the crab when it is picked up or turned over.
Recreational harvesters can use up to five stone crab traps per person. Stone crabs may not be harvested with any device that can puncture, crush or injure a crab’s body. Examples of devices that can cause this kind of damage include spears and hooks. Recreational and commercial traps may be baited and placed in the water 10 days prior to the opening of the season but may not be pulled from the water for harvest purposes until Oct. 15.
Harvesters are encouraged to take only one claw, even if both claws are of legal size, so that the released crab will be better able to defend itself from predators. A crab that is returned to the water with one claw intact will also be able to obtain more food in a shorter amount of time and therefore regrow its other claw faster. There is a recreational daily bag limit of 1 gallon of claws per person or 2 gallons per vessel, whichever is less.
The season will be open through May 15, 2015, closing May 16.
- 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.
- 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
- If the throat or entrance is round, it cannot exceed 5 inches in diameter
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
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.