Recreational and commercial blue crab traps must be removed immediately from the waters in certain areas of Florida’s east coast and midmonth in another area. These trap 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.
Blue crab traps must have been removed in Brevard through Palm Beach county waters before its Aug. 10-19 closure and in all waters from Nassau through Volusia counties prior to its Aug. 20-29 closure. The St. Johns River system west of the river’s confluence with the Intracoastal Canal (Intracoastal Waterway) is not included in either of these trap closures because it closed earlier this year.
Traps must be removed from the water before the first day of the two 10-day trap closure.
Traps can be placed back in the water after the last day of the trap closure (starting Aug. 20 for Brevard through Palm Beach counties, and starting Aug. 30 for Nassau through Volusia counties). Until then, 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 as long as the traps are secured to a dock or other private property.
Lost and abandoned blue crab traps are a problem in the blue crab fishery because, when left in the water, they can continue to trap crabs and fish. They can also be unsightly in the marine environment, damage sensitive habitats and pose navigational hazards to boaters on the water.
There are six regularly scheduled regional closures in total: three occurring in even-numbered years on the east coast and three in odd-numbered years on the west coast (see map).
The Aug. 10-19 closure includes Brevard, Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach counties. The Aug. 20-29 closure includes Nassau, Duval, St. Johns, Flagler and Volusia counties.
More information regarding the FWC’s trap-retrieval program, blue crab trap closure dates, regulations and cleanup events is available online at MyFWC.com/Fishing (click on “Saltwater Fishing,” then “Trap Retrieval/Debris Removal”). For additional information, you may also contact the FWC’s trap-retrieval coordinator, Kyle Miller, at 850-487-0554.
Images courtesy of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission