Recreational and commercial blue crab traps in state waters from the Palm Beach-Broward county line to the Pasco-Hernando county line have to be removed from the water before July 10, the first day of a 10-day trap closure. The closure gives groups authorized by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission the opportunity to identify and retrieve lost and abandoned blue crab traps from the water.
Traps may be placed back in the water starting on July 20. 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 if the traps are attached to a dock or other private property.
Closures may be reduced in duration if it is determined the number of lost and abandoned traps in the region will take less time to remove.
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.
The closure is one of three regional, 10-day blue crab trap closures for 2021. There are six regional closures total: three in even-numbered years on the east coast and three in odd-numbered years on the Gulf coast and in south Florida.
While state waters extend to nine nautical miles offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, the blue crab trap closures include only state waters extending to three nautical miles offshore on both coasts.
More information regarding the FWC’s trap-retrieval program, blue crab trap closure dates, regulations and cleanup events is available online at MyFWC.com/Marine by clicking on “Trap and Debris.” For additional information, contact the FWC’s trap retrieval coordinator, Pamela Gruver, at 850-487-0554.