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Stone Crab Season Opens With New Rules, Some Guidance

FWC's Flickr
Credit FWC's Flickr
FWC's Flickr

Thursday marked the start of stone crab claw harvest season for recreational and commercial use in state and federal waters.

“To hold the crab, take both claws. Make sure you have both propodus firmly in hand and with the right hand, I’m just going to make a motion straight down, which is a good break.”

That’s part of an instructional video provided by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, illustrating the guidelines to follow when removing crab claws. FWC spokeswoman Amanda Nalley says before the removal, the claw must be at least 2 ¾ inches long.

“By taking care when you remove those claws, those claws will regrow and the crab will have a better chance of survival,” said Nalley.

FWC researchers encourage the removal of one claw to increase their chance of survival even more.

“And, the loss of it means that they are less able to feed in their normal mode,” said FWC research scientist Ryan Gandy. “We do encourage anybody taking crab claws to just remove one. And, that allows the crab to still defend itself, be able to feed, the survival rates are a little bit higher with one claw removal. So, we encourage that.”

And, Gandy says it’s unclear whether it’s painful for the crab.

To ensure the future population, Nalley says claws are also not to be taken from egg-bearing female stone crabs—identifiable by a mass underneath its belly.

There are also new stone crab trap regulations for Collier, Monroe, and Miami-Dade counties, because the FWC was getting reports that people were targeting spiny lobsters using the traps.

The season runs through May 15 th of next year. For more information, visit myFWC.com.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner .

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