Blue Crab Recreational Harvest Regulations
||Daily Bag Limit
Sept. 20 - Oct. 4 closed to traps in Gulf state waters beyond 3 miles and in federal waters.
Also closed regionally. See regional closures below.
|10 gallons whole per harvester per day
5 traps maximum.
Trap requirements apply.
Harvest of egg-bearing crabs prohibited.
See below for more.
Blue Crab Trap Harvest Regional Closed Seasons
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 recreational and commercial harvest of blue crabs with traps in these areas. The closures alternate coasts every year with closures on the east coast of Florida occuring during the even numbered years and closures on the west coast occuring on the odd years.
Even Year Closures
- All waters of the St. Johns River system 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
* All waters of the St. Johns River, 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.
** Except all waters of the St. Johns River system.
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. There is also an existing blue crab trap harvest closure three to nine miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico from September 20 through October 4 each year.
For more information:
Blue Crab Restrictions
- Harvest of females holding eggs or sponge crabs is prohibited
- No minimum or maximum size limits
- Bag limit of 10 gallons of whole blue crabs per person, per day
A recreational fishing license is required to harvest blue crabs, unless you qualify for an exemption
. Crabbers who use traps, baskets, crab nets, dip nets or landing nets will need to have fishing licenses. See Shoreline Fishing FAQs
for more information.
Allowable Harvesting (Gear)
- Maximum of 5 blue crab traps per person as described in the summary of blue crab trapping rules below
- Dip or landing net
- Drop net
- A fold up trap with a volume of no more than one cubic foot
- Hook and line push scrape
- Five trap maximum per person
- 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 harvesters name and address permanently affixed to it in legible letters.
- Traps must be pulled manually (not by a mechanical 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.
- No harvest allowed with any trap out of state waters (seaward of nine nautical miles from shore in the Gulf of Mexico or seaward of three nautical miles from shore in the Atlantic Ocean).
- A Florida recreational fishing license is required to harvest blue crabs under the recreational fishing regulations.
- Blue crab trap specifications are the same for recreational and commercial harvesters. Trap specifications may be found in Rule 68B-45.004, Florida Administrative Code.
Can female blue crabs be harvested?
Female blue crabs may be harvested lawfully if they are not bearing eggs. Although it is lawful to keep non-egg bearing female blue crabs, it is a conservation practice to release them unharmed. There has been evidence that the females support the population of the species. Male crabs are capable of mating several times, but females are only able to mate once, after they mature.
If a juvenile female is harvested, there will be no chance that she will be able to reproduce. Additionally, mature females may store sperm in their bodies for several months after mating in order to spawn at a later date. If a mature female is harvested, though she may not exhibit eggs, there is no certainty that she has spawned.
Releasing female blue crabs enhances reproductive capacity and population renewal.