|Female Stone Crab With Eggs. Photo Credit: NOAA/NMFS|
PORT CANAVERAL, Florida — The commercial and recreational harvest of stone crab claws in Florida closes on May 16, with the last day of harvest on May 15. This closure occurs each year during the species’ peak spawning season to help protect and sustain Florida’s valuable stone crab resource. Stone crab season will reopen on October 15.
Stone Crab Limits
- No females with eggs
- 2 3/4-inch claw
- Open season: Oct. 15 – May 15
- Bag limit: 1 gallon of claws per person or 2 gallons per vessel, whichever is less
Stone Crab Harvesting Gear
- It is unlawful to use any device on the taking of stone crabs that can puncture, crush, or injure the crab body, such as spears, grains, grabs, hooks, or similar devices
- Maximum of 5 stone crabs traps per person as described in the summary of stone crab trapping rules below
Stone Crab Trapping Rules
- 5-trap maximum
- Buoy must have a legible “R” at least two inches high, permanently affixed to it. Buoys are not required if trap is fished from a dock.
- Trap shall have harvesters name and address permanently affixed to it in legible letters.
- 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
- 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
- A Florida recreational fishing license is required to harvest stone crabs under the recreational fishing regulations.
- Stone crab trap specifications are the same for recreational and commercial harvesters. Trap specifications may be found in Rule 68B-13.008, Florida Administrative Code.
Can both stone crab claws be harvested?
Both claws of a stone crab may be harvested lawfully if they are of legal size. Although it is currently lawful to harvest both of a stone crab’s claws this practice leaves the stone crab with few alternatives to defend itself from predators.
Although the crab can still obtain minimal amounts of food with no claws, having one claw (if the other one is harvested) will enable the crab to obtain greater amounts of food in a shorter amount of time. Stone crabs (like other crustaceans) have the ability to grow back their claws, but this process requires a large amount of energy in the form of food.
The quicker the crab can obtain the energy required to molt and grow its lost claw, the sooner this renewable delicacy will have another claw to replace the missing claw.