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Stone Crab: Menippe mercenaria or Menippe adina

Update

At the July meeting, FWC Commissioners approved several changes to commercial and recreational stone crab regulations that will go into effect prior to the Oct. 15, 2020, season start date.

Learn more

Commercial Gulf State and Atlantic State Waters

Minimum size limit: Claws harvested only: 2 3/4 inches (will change to 2 7/8 inches starting before the Oct. 15, 2020, season start date); claws may not be removed from egg-bearing females

Bag limit: None; Incidental bycatch 5 gallons  of claws per day from spiny lobster or blue crab traps with stone crab incidental take endorsement

Season: Closed May 16 (changing to May 2 in 2021) - Oct. 14 ( see *Note below)

Special regulations apply for traps and this species when in Biscayne National Park.

Stone crab measurements

*Note: Traps may be placed in the water and baited 10 days prior to the opening of the stone crab season. 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. 

The placement of traps during nighttime hours is permissible during this time frame. However, fisherman cannot get underway with gear on board until the soak period starts at 12:01 a.m. Oct. 5. Once stone crab season begins, traps may only be worked during daylight hours.

Traps must be removed within five days after the close of the stone crab season.

NEW: Starting Oct. 1, 2020, possession of whole stone crabs on the water limited to 2 “checker boxes” each up to 3’ x 2’ x 2’ OR a total of no more than 24 cubic feet in volume regardless of the number of checker boxes used.

License Requirements: 

Saltwater Products License (SPL), Restricted Species Endorsement (RS) and Stone Crab Endorsement (X)

Legal Gear:

  • Traps made from either wood, plastic or wire

Illegal gear:

  • Cannot use any device to puncture, crush or injure the crab body.
  • Live stone crabs that are not immediately returned to the water must be kept in shaded containers and kept damp. 
Example of a standard plastic commercial stone crab trap

Trap specifications:

Maximum trap size is 24 inches by 24 inches by 24 inches or a volume of 8 cubic feet

Traps can be made from either wood, wire or plastic

Throat must be no larger than 5 1/2 by 3 1/8 inches in Collier, Monroe and Miami-Dade

If the throat or entrance is round, it cannot exceed 5 inches in diameter

Round throats prohibited in Collier, Monroe and Miami-Dade counties

If the throat or entrance is round, it cannot exceed 5 inches in diameter

Plastic traps must have a degradable panel that is 5 ½ inches by 3 ½ inches and is made of cypress or untreated pine slat no thicker than ¾ of an inch

Wire traps must have at least three unobstructed escape rings (2 3/8 inches in diameter) located on a vertical side of the trap.

NEW: A 2 3/16” escape ring is required in all plastic and wood stone crab traps by 2023/2024 season.

A stone crab trap tag must be permanently affixed and each trap must also have the stone crab endorsement number permanently attached.

The buoy must be no smaller than 6 inches and must be marked with a legible stone crab endorsement number that is at least 2 inches tall.

Trap regulations:

May only be worked during daylight hours. 

Traps are prohibited in all navigation channels of Inland Coastal Waterways or channels marked by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, the U.S. Coast Guard or state, county or local governments.

Pulling another person's trap without express consent of the owner and FWC Law Enforcement is prohibited. 

No more than two stone crab endorsement numbers (X) shall be used on a single vessel.

Can both stone crab claws be harvested?

Both claws of a stone crab may be harvested 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 help the crab 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.

Commercial trap boat Identification poster

Vessel

(applies to commercial stone crab, blue crab and lobster vessels)

Endorsement numbers on side of vessel must be at least 4 inches tall

The buoy color must be displayed on the side of the vessel in an 8 inch in diameter circle outlined in contrasting color

When viewing the vessel from the air, the buoy color must be displayed in a 20 inch diameter circle outlined in contrasting color with the endorsement number affixed beneath in numerals 10 inches tall or larger