Alabama Blue Crab Management

Management Structure

The Alabama blue crab fishery, which is fished exclusively within Alabama state territorial waters,  is managed under Alabama state legislature and associated regulatory bodies, primarily ADCNR. A Conservation Advisory Board, consisting of 10 governor-appointed members for six year terms, the Governor, the Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries, and the Director of the Alabama Cooperative Extension system, assists in formulating policies for the Department of Conservation, examines all rules and regulations, and makes recommendations for their change or amendment. The Board also assists in publicizing the Department’s programs and activities.

Members of ADCNR, as well as members from the management agencies of the other four Gulf States, collaborate regularly through GSMFC. GSMFC acts as an advisory agency providing management recommendations for each Gulf State, but has no regulatory authority. The charge of GSMFC is “to promote better utilization of the fisheries, marine, shell and anadromous, of the seaboard of the Gulf of Mexico, by the development of a joint program for the promotion and protection of such fisheries and the prevention of the physical waste of the fisheries from any cause.”

Brief History of Management Changes

1971 – Regulation prohibiting the taking of spawn crabs repealed.
1989 – Amendment to regulation 220-3-.03 that stated that it was unlawful to remove commercial crab traps from the water or remove crabs from commercial crab traps during the hours from sunset to one hour before sunrise the following day. Also, this amendment stated each commercial crab trap should be marked with at least one buoy no smaller than six inches in diameter and at least one-half of the buoy should be white.
1996 – Amendment to regulation 220-3-.31 increasing the minimum size requirement from four inches to five inches.
1999 – Extensive amendments to regulation 220-3-.31 clarifying how buoys, crab pots, crab containers for blue crabs and soft shell crabs should be labeled. The amendment
allowed the possession of two intermediate “work boxes” and defined under what circumstances a container is no longer considered a “work box”. This amendment details the regulations for the taking of crabs for bait as well as the amount of blue crab bycatch that may be retained by commercial shrimpers. Recreational crabbing (by crab pot)
is detailed, including where they are permitted and how they are to be attached and marked. Improperly marked or illegally placed crab traps shall be considered a nuisance
and may be confiscated.
2001 – Amendments to regulation 220-3-.31 clarifying trap proximity to navigational channels, public ramps, and public piers.
2002 – Amendments to regulation 220-3-.31 removing the use of the buoy color code system and using identification numbers on buoys to identify commercial crab pots. of
the amendment clarified areas prohibited to crabbing. The amendment also clarified that nuisance crab pots may be confiscated by Marine Resources Enforcement or other authorized agent of the ADCNR.
2004 – Amendments to regulation 220-3-.31 requiring the identification number of the commercial harvester’s crab traps to be displayed clearly on the vessel used for harvesting blue crabs. Redefinition and clarification of specific areas prohibited to the taking of blue crab.
2012 – Amendments to regulation 220-3-.31 clarifying position of crab trap buoy markings and size of identification numbers so that numbers are easily seen and identified.
Redefinition and clarification of specific areas prohibited to the taking of blue crabs (Perry and VanderKooy 2015).

Current Regulations

See Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Administrative Code Chapter 220-3

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