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The stone crab fishery is unique in that only the claws of the animal are harvested. The drawback of harvesting only the claws is biologists cannot obtain data about the crab population, including crab size, sex ratio or growth rate. This information is critical for assessing the status of the Florida stone crab population. The Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI), with funding from the Florida Legislature, is conducting a long-term, trap-based monitoring program to better understand the factors that control annual and local fluctuations in stone crab catch. 

FWRI Crustacean Fisheries staff designated eight locations along the Florida coast as study sites. At each location, FWRI researchers select four sites arranged inshore to offshore. At each site, they set five standard commercial stone crab traps approximately 100 meters apart in a straight line, resulting in 20 traps sampled at each of the eight locations. 

Researchers service the traps every two weeks by counting the catch, determining each crab’s sex and assessing individuals for injuries. They also take measurements for carapace width and claw length, and determine whether claws are original or regenerated. Additionally, during each sampling event, FWRI staff measures bottom-water temperature, salinity, conductivity and dissolved oxygen at each station. Each month, the traps are scraped and cleaned of any fouling organisms such as barnacles, algae, hydroids, tunicates and bryozoans. Juveniles stone crabs that have settled on the outside of the traps are also counted.

The following tables summarize monthly stone crab catch data at the eight sampling locations for the 2018-2019 fishing season. In late August of 2018, a sampling location near Pine Island was added to capture the effects of red tide on the stone crab population in that area.

Pre-Season: September 2018

October 2018
November 2018
December 2018

Data from previous year's fishing season can also be viewed in the following tables.

2017-2018 Fishing Season
2016-2017 Fishing Season
2015-2016 Fishing Season
2014-2015 Fishing Season
2013-2014 Fishing Season
2012-2013 Fishing Season

*All data is preliminary and subject to change - not for redistribution.