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Stone Crab: Menippe mercenaria or Menippe adina

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In May 2020, FWC Commissioners directed staff to continue gathering input on a draft rule proposal to modify commercial and recreational stone crab regulations, including potential changes to season dates, minimum claw size limit, trap construction requirements, and possession of whole stone crabs on the water. The Commission could make a final decision on management changes for this fishery at the July 2020 FWC meeting. Visit the Comments link to share your input or to attend a virtual workshop June 16 & 18.


Commercial Gulf State and Atlantic State Waters

Minimum size limit: Claws harvested only: 2 3/4 inches; no egg-bearing females

Bag limit: None; Incidental bycatch 5 gallons 

Season: Closed May 16 - 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. Traps must be removed within five days after the close of the stone crab season.

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

NEW: Throat must be 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

NEW: 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 pane 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.

A stone 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

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.

How to Harvest a Stone Crab Claw

Recreational and commercial stone crab season runs from October 15th through May 15th each year in state and federal waters off the coast of Florida.

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


(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