Crab trap raider caught, faces stiff repercussions
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Media contact: Joy Hill, 352-258-3426
A 23-year-old St. Johns County man found out recently that
robbing commercial blue crab traps is serious business in Florida
and could land him in prison.
Trevor J. Jones (DOB 01/31/88) of St. Augustine was booked into
the Putnam County jail Sept. 15, charged with theft from a blue
crap trap, a third-degree felony. If convicted, Jones faces a
maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
"Stealing from a commercial blue crab trap is a serious offense
because it is interfering with a person's livelihood," said Lt.
Over the Labor Day weekend, Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission (FWC) Officer Mike Florence and Pottorf
were on patrol near Fort Gates on the St. Johns River when they saw
Jones throw a crab trap into the water from his boat. As it turned
out, the trap did not belong to Jones, who had neither a commercial
permit to trap crabs nor a recreational saltwater fishing license.
The officers removed the trap as evidence and returned the live
crabs to the water.
Trapping blue crabs commercially requires a permit, and it is
standard procedure for officers to inspect vessels when occupants
are setting or pulling traps from the water.
Stealing from blue crab traps is a statewide problem. The blue
crab is a restricted species, which means the number of people who
can harvest blue crabs commercially is limited. In fact, commercial
fishermen seeking a restricted species endorsement (permit) to
harvest blue crabs on a saltwater products licensemust prove that a
certain percentage of their income is derived from the sale of blue
Another problem with pulling up someone else's crab traps is
that the placement of traps is critical to a commercial crabber's
success. When someone pulls one up and throws it back into the
water haphazardly, there is a good chance it won't end up in a good
position to trap crabs.
But people who want crabs for supper don't have to steal someone
else's. Anyone with a valid recreational saltwater fishing license
may harvest crabs in traps as long as the traps meet certain
criteria. Recreational crabbers are limited to using five traps,
each of which must be marked with a buoy with the letter "R"
painted on it. The name and address of the crabber must be
permanently attached to the trap also. And each trap must have
three escape rings, so smaller crabs can escape, as well as a
biodegradable panel or device that will deteriorate, so crabs will
not be forever trapped if the trap line is cut or the trap is
To report crab trap robbers and other violations, please call
the 24-hour Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922). Callers
may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward if their
information leads to an arrest.