Fishery Interactions – FL Blue Crab

Recreational Interactions

Fishery interactions vary regionally across Florida. In some areas there is high possibility of interaction between the Florida commercial blue crab fishery and other commercial and recreational fisheries. Recreational blue crabbing is allowed in Florida with a maximum of five recreational traps. Industry interviews have revealed there is concern over recreational traps being set too close to commercial lines, resulting in commercial trap damage as well as theft of catch.

Commercial Interactions

Interactions also occur across state and national boundaries. Each Gulf of Mexico state has a blue crab fishery, and other state’s fishing practices may affect fisheries in Florida, and vice versa (MRAG Americas, Inc. 2008). While the Gulf of Mexico Florida blue crab fishery is comprised mainly of the Eastern GOM stock, the range of the Western GOM stock extend over a small portion of the Florida panhandle.

Currently, U.S. participates with Cuba, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, and other Caribbean and Latin American countries on fisheries management through Regional Fishery Management Organizations, including Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission and Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism. There is a targeted blue crab fishery in Cuba, but it is currently thought to have minimal/no impact on the Florida blue crab fishery, with blue crab accounting for only 3.5% of total catch of marine fisheries in Cuban waters. (Cuban fisheries report, p. 7). There is no targeted blue crab fishery in the Bahamas.

Interactions between crab gear and shrimp gear are common in most Gulf States. Blue crab is a bycatch species in shrimp trawls (Fuls et al. 2002), and gear interactions can be a source of conflict between the fisheries. However, in Florida, the 1996 net ban minimized some of the gear interactions between shrimp and blue crab. Except for a few designated areas, all shrimping must occur nine miles from the coast on the Gulf side of Florida and three miles from the coast on the Atlantic side. Shrimp trawls may keep 200 pounds of blue crab bycatch per trip crab, but this is usually in areas where there isn’t active commercial blue crabbing occurring.


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