TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The sun is setting on the 2021 stone crab season. This is the last week of this season to enjoy a few claws before it closes May 2.
This is the second year the season has been a few weeks shorter than the past. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) moved to shorten the season in 2020 in hopes that it would reduce the percentage of claws harvested by 10%, citing data that showed lower harvests in the previous years.
If you are already missing the delicacy, you can register to put out a few of your own crab traps recreationally for the next season, which opens October 15th. According to the FWC, you can register on GoOutdoorsFlorida.com and add the Recreational Stone Crab Trap Registration or the Recreational Blue Crab Trap Registration to your fishing license account.
After that, you’ll get your own crab trap registration number and a designation for stone crabs.
Before you put your traps out, here are 8 things you need to know
- You don’t keep the whole crab, you remove the claws and return the crab to the water, where its claws will grow back.
- There’s a technique to removing the claw and, when done correctly, can help the crab’s survival rate once back in the water.
- You can remove both claws, but the crab will have a better chance of survival and be able to regenerate a new claw faster if it still has one claw remaining.
- It takes adult stone crabs about a year to regenerate a claw and juvenile crabs a few months.
- Make sure to measure the claws BEFORE you remove them. You can only take claws above the minimum size limit of 2 and 7/8ths of an inch. This changed in 2020, so don’t use an older measuring device.
- Check the bottom of the crab – it’s illegal to take the claws from an egg bearing female. Here’s what to look for.
- The limit on stone crabs is 1 gallon of claws per person or two gallons of claws per boat – whichever is less.
- The season runs from October 15 through May 1, but you may place your traps in the water up to 10 days before the start of the season as long as you do not check them until the season opens.