Recreational and commercial blue crab traps must be removed from certain state waters on the east coast of Florida prior to Aug. 10, the first day of two 10-day trap closures occurring this month.
Blue crab traps may not be in state waters (shore to 3 nautical miles, including intracoastal waterways) in Brevard through Palm Beach counties, from Aug. 10-19 and from all state waters from the Georgia-Florida line through Volusia County Aug. 20-29. All waters of the St. Johns River system are excluded in both of these closures.
These closures will give groups authorized by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) the opportunity to identify and retrieve lost and abandoned blue crab traps from the water.
Closures may be reduced in duration if it is determined that the number of lost and abandoned traps in the region will take less time to remove.
Until the trap season reopens, blue crabs may be harvested with other gear, such as dip nets and fold-up traps. Blue crab harvesters may also use standard blue crab traps during the closure if the traps are attached to a dock or other private property.
Lost and abandoned blue crab traps are a problem in the blue crab fishery because they can continue to trap crabs and fish when left in the water. They can also be unsightly in the marine environment, damage sensitive habitats and pose navigational hazards to boaters on the water.
These closures are two of three regional, 10-day, blue crab trap closures that occur in 2016 on the Atlantic coast of Florida. There are six regional closures total: three in odd-numbered years on the west coast and three in even-numbered years on the east coast.
For more information regarding the FWC’s trap-retrieval program, blue crab trap closure dates, regulations and cleanup events, go to MyFWC.com/Fishing (click on “Saltwater Fishing,” then “Trap & Debris”). For additional information, contact the FWC’s trap-retrieval coordinator, Pamela Gruver, at 850-487-0554.