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The Horseshoe Crab Fishery in Florida

Horseshoe crabs are harvested commercially in the U.S. for three purposes: bait (conch and eel fisheries), marine-life (aquaria, research, etc.) and biomedical use (use of the crab's blood for bacteria detection).  Compared to other states, Florida has a small bait fishery for eels and a large marine-life fishery. In March 2000, a series of management measures for horseshoe crabs went into effect in Florida. The regulations required a license to harvest and set a limit on the number of animals each licensee could harvest per day (25 to 100 animals allowed per day per person depending on the permit). In 2002, a biomedical permitting rule created a mechanism to allow for biomedical collection.

View the Florida Horseshoe Crab Fishing Regulations

Graph showing number of horseshoe crabs harvested since 2000


Florida horseshoe crab landings have been recorded since 1987. Bait and marine life landings have been recorded separately since 1997.