STONE CRAB: Menippe mercenaria or Menippe adina
||Gulf State Waters
|| Atlantic State Waters
|Minimum Size Limit
|| Claws harvested only: 2 3/4 inches; no egg-bearing females
|| None; Incidental bycatch 5 gallons
|| Closed May 16 - Oct. 14 (see *Note below)
*Note: Traps may be placed in the water and baited 10 days prior to the opening of the stone crab season and must be removed within five days after the close of the stone crab season.
Saltwater Products License (SPL), Restricted Species Endorsement (RS) and Stone Crab Endorsement (X)
Can both stone crab claws be harvested?
Both claws of a stone crab may be harvested 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 help the crab 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 one.
- Traps made from either wood, plastic or wire
- Cannot use any device to puncture, crush or injure the crab body.
- Live stone crabs that are not immediately returned to the water must be kept in shaded containers and kept damp.
- Trap certificates and tags are required.
- A valid tag must be securely attached to each trap.
- Traps, buoys and vessels must display the Stone Crab Endorsement (X) number.
- Stone crab trap specifications and trap, buoy and vessel marking requirements apply. Before building a trap, please refer to 68B-45.004 Florida Administrative Code .
- Traps must be constructed of wood, plastic or wire.
- Traps must be no larger than 2 feet by 2 feet by 2 feet or a volume of 8 cubic feet with the entrance (throat) located on a horizontal side of wire traps and on the top of wood and plastic traps.
- Plastic traps must have degradable panels.
- Wire traps must have at least three unobstructed escape rings (2 3/8 inches in diameter) located on a vertical side of the trap.
- May only be worked during daylight hours.
- Traps are prohibited in all navigation channels of Inland Coastal Waterways or channels marked by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, the U.S. Coast Guard or state, county or local goverments.
- Pulling another person's trap without express consent of the owner and FWC Law Enforcement is prohibited.
- No more than two stone crab endorsement numbers (X) shall be used on a single vessel.
When can I put stone crab traps in the water?
Stone crab season is from Oct. 15 to May 15. However, this does not mean that you must place your traps on Oct. 15. The period of time before open season that your traps may be placed is deemed the "soak season" and begins 10 days prior to the open of the season. The start of soak season falls on Oct. 5. At this time you may place your stone crab traps in the water. Please be aware that once placed, you may not tend to the traps until the start of the season, at which time you may begin harvesting at sunrise on Oct. 15 as stated in the Florida Administrative Code (FAC) Chapter 68B-13. This states that "traps may be worked during daylight hours only, and the pulling of traps from one hour after official sunset until one hour before official sunrise is prohibited." For the full text, please visit this site: https://www.flrules.org/Default.asp and search for CHAPTER 68B-13.
Also, you must remove all traps by sunset May 15 as stated in the FAC: "The season for the harvest, possession and sale of stone crab claws shall be from Oct. 15 through May 15, each year. No person, firm or corporation, shall harvest, or have in his or her possession, regardless of where taken, or sell or offer for sale, any stone crab of any size, or any parts thereof, from May 16 through Oct. 14, each year, except for stone crab claws, placed in inventory by a wholesale or retail dealer as defined in Section 370.07, Florida Statutes, prior to May 16 of each year."
Image Credit:Diane Rome Peebles