Get your claw crackers ready, because Florida’s recreational and commercial stone crab claw harvest season opens Oct. 15 in state and federal waters.
To be harvested, stone crab claws must be at least 2 3/4 inches in length when measured from the elbow to the tip of the lower immovable portion of the claw (see illustration).
Claws may not be taken from egg-bearing female stone crabs. Recreational harvesters can use up to five stone crab traps per person. Stone crabs may not be harvested with any device that can puncture, crush or injure the crab body. Examples of devices that can cause this kind of damage include spears and hooks. Recreational and commercial traps may be baited and placed in the water 10 days prior to the opening of the season but may not be pulled from the water for harvest purposes until Oct. 15.
Both claws of the stone crab may be taken if the claws are of legal size, but this practice leaves the crab with few alternatives to defend itself from predators. Crabs that are returned to the water with one claw intact will be able to obtain more food in a shorter amount of time and therefore regrow its other claw faster. There is a recreational daily bag limit of one gallon of claws per person or two gallons per vessel, whichever is less.
The season will be open through May 15, 2013.
Stone crab regulations are the same in state and federal waters.
More information on harvesting stone crabs for recreation, as well as commercial stone crab regulations and licensing information, is available online at MyFWC.com/Fishing (click on “Saltwater”).
Visit the Fresh From Florida website at Florida-agriculture.com for ideas on how to turn your stone crab catch into a feast the family will love.
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