This summary highlights fishery-independent sampling program catch data collected at eight sampling locations.
FWRI Fishery-Independent Monitoring stone
crab sampling locations: Steinhatchee (ST);
Cedar Key (CK); Homosassa (HM); Tampa Bay
(TB); Pavilion Key (PK); Oxfoot Bank (OX);
Harbor Keys Bank (HK); Sawyer Key (SK).
The stone crab fishery is unique in that only the claws of the animal are harvested. The drawback of harvesting only the claws is biologists cannot obtain data about the crab population, including crab size, sex ratio or growth rate. This information is critical for assessing the status of the Florida stone crab population. The Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI), with funding from the Florida Legislature, is conducting a long-term, trap-based monitoring program to better understand the factors that control annual and local fluctuations in stone crab catch.
FWRI Crustacean Fisheries staff designated eight locations along the Florida coast as study sites. At each location, FWRI researchers select four sites arranged inshore to offshore. At each site, they set five standard commercial stone crab traps approximately 100 meters apart in a
straight line, resulting in 20 traps sampled at each of the eight locations.
Researchers service the traps every two weeks by counting the catch, determining each crab’s sex and assessing individuals for injuries. They also take measurements for carapace width and claw length, and determine whether claws are original or regenerated. Additionally, during each sampling event, FWRI staff measures bottom-water temperature, salinity, pH, conductivity and dissolved oxygen at each station. Each month, the traps are scraped and cleaned of any fouling organisms such as barnacles, algae, hydroids, tunicates and bryozoans. Juveniles that have settled on the outside of the traps are counted and measured.
The following tables summarize monthly stone crab catch data at the eight sampling locations for the 2012-2013 fishing season.
*All data is preliminary - not for distribution.