FWC enforces new regulations for 2020 Stone Crab Season

Northwest Florida

PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — Stone crab is a 30 million dollar industry in the state of Florida. Stone crab season kicked off last Thursday, but it will be a little different for people this year.

Since the early 2000’s officials believe the stone crab population has been declining and
that’s why this year the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation  added some new regulations, hoping to help with the problem.

Spokesperson for FWC Amanda Nalley says, Stone crab is a very important fishery to the state. It’s one of the top commercial fisheries we have along with the spiny lobster.

It’s a fishery they are making sure they don’t lose and keeping it resilient throughout the state, so these new regulations aren’t something they threw together.

Nalley says, “We had workshops on this we reached out to stakeholders for a long time about this, to try and come up with a plan and some changes that could be something that both harvesters could get on board with and be good for the fishery.”

Some of the regulations include:

-The minimum claw size limit will be 2 7/8 inches (an 1/8 inch increase).
-Possession of whole stone crabs on the water will be limited to two checker boxes, each up to 3 feet by 2 feet by 2 feet or a total volume of 24 cubic feet.
-The season will now end on May 2.
-All plastic and wood stone crab traps will need to be outfitted with a 2 3/16-inch escape ring before the 2023/2024 season.

Not everyone is going to be happy with the new rules, Nalley says. But the FW are continuing to work with everyone on both sides, and again this is all about trying to keep the population up for stone crabs.

“The big thing when your new to this is how you remove that claw,” says Nalley. “And make sure you are educating yourself on the best ways to remove them because if you get a bad break then that can increase the chances of that the crab will not survive.”

Nalley adds she doesn’t have any definite data on how much covid-19 or the hurricanes will have on it this years stone crab season either.

If you have any comments or want to see all the regulations they said to please reach out to them on their page, click here.

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