Recommendation 2 – FL Blue Crab

Reactivate Blue Crab Advisory Board.


In 2003, the Blue Crab Advisory Board (BCAB) was created to advise FWC during the development and implementation of BCEMP and to address other issues in the fishery. The BCAB was active until July of 2012, at which time FWC discontinued funding for the board. Members of the board meet informally to discuss issues in the fishery, but no formal structure currently exists. Reinstitution of the BCAB could help address new issues in the fishery in a more official capacity. Such issues and concerns, as collected by G.U.L.F. during Florida blue crab industry interviews, include:

1.  User conflicts.

Florida’s blue crab fishery has a high potential for and occurrence of conflicts between multiple user groups. Some fishermen have been fishing in the same area for decades and disapprove of intruding industry members from other areas. Because of the length of coastline, as well as the short driving time between the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, some industry members are highly mobile, picking up and fishing on either side of the state, depending on favorable catch areas.

There is also high potential for conflicts between the commercial and recreational blue crab fisheries. In Florida, there is no separate license for recreational blue crabbing. An individual is allowed five traps under a saltwater license. There is concern over recreational fishermen setting traps too close to commercial lines, theft of commercial catches, and a lack of information on recreational landings. Currently, FWC has no way to collect data on how many pounds of blue crab are landed by the recreational crab sector. The spiny lobster fishery in Florida currently has a separate license required for recreational take. Additionally, FWC conducts surveys of recreational license holders to capture common areas fished and approximate landings. Something similar could be implemented for recreational blue crabbing, and such a recommendation would need the support of industry, which could be provided through a BCAB.

2.  Resource for endorsement exchange/sale.

FWC put a license moratorium in place in 1998 to begin addressing concerns over increasing numbers of licensed fishermen and traps in use, declining CPUE, and reports of high incidence of user conflicts. The moratorium, followed by the implementation of the BCEMP, has reduced the number of endorsements from close to 6000 in 1998 down to 950 in 2011. For a new fisherman to enter the fishery, an endorsement would need to be purchased from an active fisherman. Currently, someone interested in selling endorsements may advertise on various websites; however, no central marketplace exists for selling/purchasing endorsements. An industry group, such as the BCAB, could act as a central location and resource for people looking to buy and sell and endorsements.

3. Alternatives to current trap cleanup efforts.

Currently, the FWC split the Florida coastline into five areas under the trap cleanup program. The coastlines alternate years; the Gulf Coast and southern Florida institutes closures in odd years and the Atlantic Coast during even years. There is some concern that areas are disproportionate in size, making cleanups more difficult in the larger areas because there is more water to cover in a 10 day period. The BCAB could provide a forum to discuss possible solutions for this concern.


1. Blue crab industry members develop a list of reasons for the need to reinstate an advisory board.
2. Interested industry members discuss with FWC the process needed to reactivate the BCAB.

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