Stone Crab – Recreational and Commercial Season Opens October 15

Recreational and commercial Stone Crab season opens Oct. 15 in state and federal waters

 Only the claws may be harvestedStone Crab

  • Although it is currently lawful to harvest both of a stone crab’s claws, this practice leaves the stone crab with few ways to defend itself from predators. FWC encourages people to only take a single claw.
  • Claws must be 2 ¾ inches to be harvested
  • Recreational bag limit: 1 gallon of claws per person, 2 gallons per vessel, whichever is less
  • Harvest of claws from females with eggs is prohibited
  • May 16: Season closes
  • Cannot use any device that can puncture, crush or injure the crab body
  • Recreational harvesters may use up to 5 stone crab traps per person
  • Trap throat (entrance) must be no larger than 5 ½” x 3 1/8” in Collier, Monroe and Miami-Dade counties. In all other counties, entrances can be no larger than 5 ½” x 3 ½”. Round entrances can be no more than 5 inches in diameter.
  • Round trap entrances are not allowed in Collier, Monroe, and Miami-Dade counties

 

Links for more information:

Stone Crab Information  [MyFWC.com]

Stone Crab Trap

How long does it take a crab to re-grow a claw?

Once a stone crab loses a claw or other appendage it takes several molts to fully regenerate the lost appendage or claw (Figure 8). Each time a crab molts it has the ability to regenerate the lost appendage. Regeneration in adult crabs takes one year due to the seasonal molting of adult females in fall and adult males in winter. The regenerated claws start out smaller than the original and will continue to grow through subsequent molts. After three molts (three years in adult crabs) a claw can regain 95 percent of its original size. In juvenile stone crabs regeneration of lost appendages can be more rapid than adults. Juvenile crabs molt two or more times per year giving juveniles the ability to regenerate an appendage in a few months.

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Stone crabs lose claws in two ways: the claw can be forcibly broken off when it is harvested by fishermen or lost in battle; or, a crab can intentionally drop any of its legs or claws if they are damaged or sick. A stone crab can re-grow either of its claws only if the joint that linked the claw to the body is left intact. This is why it’s so important for fishermen to correctly break the claws off of the crabs

What are the survival chances of the crab with one or two claws missing?

The answer to this question requires three key components:

Type of wound: Stone crabs have a much better chance of survival if the diaphragm at the body/claw joint is intact (Figure 9a). The diaphragm functions as a seal to close the wound and stop the bleeding. In the wild, the survival rate may approach 100 percent (Figure 9b). But in a fishery, the survival rate depends on the fisherman breaking the claw correctly. How the crabs are handled by the fisherman both before and after the claws are removed is also important.

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