FWC Stone Crab

A stone crab

Watch out for those pinchers.

Stone crab season for recreational and commercial crabbers starts Oct. 15 in Florida and neighboring federal waters, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).

FWC will close the season May 16, 2020.

Recreational and commercial traps may be baited and placed in the water Oct. 5, but claws can't be harvested or possessed until Oct. 15.

Recreational harvesters can use up to five stone crab traps per person.

There’s a recreational daily bag limit of either 1 gallon of claws per person, or 2 gallons per vessel — whichever is less.

In order to be harvested from trapped stone crabs, claws must be at least 2.75 inches from the animal’s elbow to the lower tip of its claw.

FWC encouragers crabbers to take just one claw, even if both are legal sizes, giving the crab a better chance to defend itself from predators and gathering food as its claw regrows.

For video instructions on how to remove a stone crab claw, visit FWC’s YouTube page at tinyurl.com/y6m7n8md.

Claws can’t be taken from egg-bearing crabs.

Crabs can’t be harvested with a device, like spears and hooks, which can puncture, crush or injure their body.

FWC announced new trap requirements for recreational crabbers. Stone crab trappers older than 16 must now register their traps online, at no cost.

After registering, a crabber will get unique registration numbers that must be attached to traps before use. FWC will use this information to gather data on the fishery and its future stocks. 

To register, visit GoOutdoorsFlorida.com, and add the Recreational Stone Crab Trap Registration to the fishing license account.

Traps that aren’t being fished should be removed to avoid marine life from getting trapped for long periods of time without being harvested.

Contact Chronicle reporter Buster Thompson at 352-564-2916 or bthompson@chronicleonline.com.