NEWS: Florida Atlantic Blue Crab Trap/Pot Fishery Gear Regulations and Guidelines
Blue Crab: Callinectes sapidus
Blue Crab Trap Specifications
- Maximum trap size is 2 feet by 2 feet by 2 feet or a volume of 8 cubic feet
- Mesh size must be 1 1/2 inches or larger
- The throat or entrance cannot extend farther than 6 inches into the inside of any trap
- Must have at least three escape rings, one of each located on a vertical outer surface adjacent to each chamber
- Escape rings must be larger than 2 3/8 inches.
- The trap must have a degradable panel larger than 3 inches by 6 inches
- Types of degradable panels include: untreated jute twine, non-coated steel wire measuring 24 gauge or thinner, untreated pine dowel no larger than 2 inches in length by 3/8 inch in diameter or untreated pine slats no thicker than 3/8 inch
- A blue crab trap tag must be permanently affixed
- The buoy must be no smaller than 6 inches and must be marked with a legible blue crab endorsement number that is at least 2 inches tall
Commercial Blue Crab Harvest Requirements
The blue crab effort management plan for the commercial blue crab fishery limits both the number of fishermen and traps in the blue crab fishery.
A hard crab endorsement (VH, VN), soft crab (VS) and a blue crab incidental take (VI) endorsement can be associated with either an individual or vessel Saltwater Products License (SPL). The cost of a blue crab endorsement (VH, VN, VS) is $125 and $25 for the incidental take endorsement. Endorsements must be renewed by September 30.
From these endorsement fees, $25 is dedicated to the trap retrieval program with the retrieval fee waived for up to 5 traps retrieved during trap retrieval. Traps retrieved during closed season by FWC will be assessed a retrieval fee of $10 per trap.
Commission issued blue crab trap tags will be required on blue crab traps with an annual fee of .50 cents per trap tag and can be ordered in increments of 50.
Leasing or renting of endorsements, tags or traps is prohibited.
Blue crab endorsements will be transferable from May 1, through the last day of February, but the buyer must purchase the endorsement and trap tags. The buyer must also work no fewer than 14 days fishing blue crab on the buyer's/endorsement holder's vessel and document this activity at the time of transfer.
Requalification: Beginning with license year 2010/2011, the holder of a blue crab effort management endorsement must requalify for the endorsement number by documenting landings in at least one of the three previous license years. Each endorsement number will then be valid for three years from the date of requalification, but must still be renewed annually.
How to requalify by type:
- In order to requalify a VH or a VN endorsement number, an applicant must document landings equal to or exceeding 500 pounds of hard shell blue crabs. For persons holding multiple VH endorsements on additional Saltwater Products Licenses, documented landings must equal or exceed 7,500 pounds of hard shell blue crabs on each of those additional licenses.
- In order to requalify a VS endorsement, an applicant must document landings equal to or exceeding 750 soft shell or peeler crabs. For persons holding multiple VS endorsements on additional Saltwater Products Licenses, documented landings must equal or exceed 2,500 pounds of soft shell or peeler crabs on each of those additional licenses.
A hard crab (VH) endorsement is required to harvest commercial quantities of hard shell blue. A VH endorsement entitles the owner to fish up to 600 inshore blue crab traps, and an additional 400 traps offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, per endorsed SPL. A total of 150 soft crabs per endorsed SPL may be landed daily as bycatch. Fishermen can maintain as many as three shedding tanks without possessing a soft shell crab endorsement.
A soft crab (VS) endorsement is required to harvest commercial quantities of soft shell crabs. A VS endorsement allows up to 400 peeler traps to be fished and allows the holder to operate a blue crab shedding facility with greater than 3 shedding tanks. Entities with more than one qualifying SPL are entitled to receive up to 250 additional traps per additional endorsed SPL.
A hard crab (VN) endorsement is a nontransferable blue crab endorsement that allows the endorsement holder to deploy 100 hard shell blue crab traps in any state waters where blue crab traps are allowed. A total of 150 soft crabs per endorsed SPL may be landed daily as bycatch. Fishermen can maintain as many as three shedding tanks without possessing a soft crab endorsement. The non-transferable blue crab endorsement cannot be sold or other wise transferred. If the holder of a VN endorsement purchases a VH endorsement the non-transferrable endorsement shall be forfeited.
A blue crab (VI) incidental take endorsement allows persons possessing a valid stone crab endorsement or persons who can demonstrate landings of blue crabs as bycatch using legal shrimping gear, to harvest and sell up to 200 pounds of blue crabs as bycatch, provided the amount does not exceed 200 pounds of blue crabs per vessel per trip.
Blue Crab Commercial Trap Closures
In an effort to identify and retrieve lost and abandoned blue crab traps from Florida, the FWC has established regional blue crab trap closures. These 6 regional closures last up to 10 days and prohibit using traps for the recreational and commercial harvest of blue crabs in these areas. The closures alternate coasts every year with closures on the east coast of Florida occurring during the even numbered years and closures on the west coast occurring on the odd years.
Even Year Closures
- All waters of the St. Johns River system its associated lakes and tributaries from west of the St. Johns River's intersection with the Intercoastal Canal through and including Lake Helen of Blazes from January 16-25
- All waters from the Georgia/Florida state line, excluding the St. Johns River system, south through Volusia County from August 20-29
- All waters of Brevard through Palm Beach counties, excluding the St. Johns River system, from August 10-19
Odd Year Closures
- All waters of Franklin County to the Florida/Alabama state line however, excluding all waters of the Ochlockonee River and Bay, from January 5-14
- All waters of Broward through Pasco Counties from July 10-19
- All waters of Hernando through Wakulla counties including all waters of the Ochlockonee River and Bay from July 20-29
These closed seasons only apply to standard blue crab traps. The harvest of blue crabs by other gear, such as dip nets and fold-up traps, is permitted during the closures. Traps that are attached to private property such as a dock are not included in the closures.
For more information:
Commercial blue crab trap and boat inspection sheet
Blue Crab Trap Closure Map