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 harvester's 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 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.
- 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 one.
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."
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