Recommendation 3 – FL Blue Crab

Better publication of contact information and volunteer events surrounding trap cleanup.


FWC conducts trap removal programs to minimize the impacts of ghost fishing by lost or abandoned traps in Florida waters. FWC currently runs two separate programs that address lost or abandoned gear:

The Spiny Lobster, Stone Crab and Blue Crab Trap Retrieval Program

FWC contracts commercial fishermen each year to remove fishable traps from designated zones during closed seasons. Through this program, FWC selects participant organizations through a competitive bid process and payment to fishermen is made based on the number of traps retrieved and the number of trips made for retrieval. This program is funded through fines assessed for retrieved traps ($10 per trap for the owner of each trap removed, after a five trap waiver, when owner is identifiable through trap tags) and a portion of license fees for blue crab, stone crab and spiny lobster endorsements ($25). Effective in 2010, five zones were defined along the Florida coast, and a system of seasonal closures by zone was set for blue crab removal with alternating closures by year and coast.

Derelict Trap and Trap Debris Removal Program

This program authorizes volunteer organizations to collect derelict traps during both open and closed seasons. In July of 2003, rules were developed and adopted that allow derelict trap retrieval by persons other than FWC personnel based on a strict definition of “derelict’” and prior authorization from FWC. Since the adoption of this rule, several community-led removal programs have been developed across the state and over 25 trap cleanup events occurred between 2003 and 2008 resulting in the removal of over 1700 traps. In July of 2009, a new rule was adopted to create an annual 10 day season closure for the purpose of derelict trap removal. Volunteer groups may remove derelict traps from state waters when an event is organized and authorized by FWC. Volunteer cleanups may occur during open or closed seasons as long as they adhere to guidelines established in Rule 68B-55, Florida Administrative Code. Despite the efforts of FWC and the commercial fishing industry, there is still some concern that traps are being missed during cleanups. There is a phone number available that anyone can call to report traps for removal. This number goes to a coordinator who records the location and notifies the fishermen who have been contracted to pick up traps during the closed season. Better advertisement and publication of this number could allow concerned citizens or other members of the industry to report derelict traps and contribute to a more thorough cleanup effort.  Additionally, better publication of volunteer trap events and participation by local fishermen in these events would also aid in more effective trap removal programs.


1. G.U.L.F. to collaborate with industry on communication strategy surrounding annual trap cleanups.
2. Prepare regional areas ahead of closure period to best utilize effort. Inform local fishermen of the phone number to report traps for removal and let them know about any volunteer efforts taking place in their area that they can assist with.

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