Ecosystem Considerations – Species of Concern – FL Blue Crab

Species of Concern

DBT_Maritime Aquarium and Norwalk

Diamondback terrapin

Diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin) shares some habitat with blue crabs, and concerns have been raised by environmental groups over incidental catch and mortality of terrapins in blue crab traps. There are several subspecies of terrapin across its range, which extends along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. The mangrove terrapin is listed as a rare species on the Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI) and in the Florida Committee on Rare and Endangered Plants and Animals (FCREPA; Boykin 2004). It is legal to take two diamondback terrapins per person per day for noncommercial use (FWC nongame regulations). Incidental capture and mortality of diamondback terrapins in blue crab traps has been noted as a possible concern and FWC is currently investigating this (FWC diamondback terrapin research). FWRI recently issued a final report to the Wildlife Foundation of Florida on interactions between terrapins and crab traps including identification of ‘hot spots’ of terrapin abundance and fishing effort, an assessment of terrapin populations, and a study of trap interactions in a known terrapin colony (Gandy and Turner 2014). FWC representatives, through the GSMFC Crab Subcommittee, are working with the Gulf Coast Region Diamondback Terrapin Working Group, to discuss potential management options for reducing diamondback terrapins mortality in crab traps and a meeting between the two groups occurred in February 2015. The Diamondback Terrain Working Group is also working with the blue crab industry and managers regionally to address concerns of terrapin interactions and mortality in blue crab traps (Diamondback Terrain Working Group).

Marine mammals

The Gulf of Mexico blue crab fishery as a whole is considered by NOAA’s Office of Protected Resources to be a Category III (remote likelihood/no known) on the List of Fisheries based on the level interact and threat to marine mammals (NOAA OPR). The Atlantic coast is listed as a Category II on the NOAA List of Fisheries, which requires the fishery to follow regulations defined by the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Plan (ALWTRP) and the Bottlenose Dolphin Take Reduction Plan (BDTRP). These plans require the Atlantic coast fishers to mark buoys and line with identifying colors (blue and orange for state waters), there cannot be any floating line at the surface, there must be a weak link in the buoy line, and gear must be hauled at least every 30 days (NOAA OPR- Atlantic blue crab). Participants in the fishery must also register with the Office of Protected Resources and comply with ALWTRP and BDTRP, but there is no requirement to report interactions (NOAA OPR- ALWTRP, NOAA’s OPR BDTRP).



Previous: Ecosystem Considerations                                                                                                    Next: Derelict Traps

FL blue crab

Return to FL Blue Crab

Download the Audubon Gulf Seafood Guide mobile app:
Click here for the app tutorial on YouTube.
Sponsored and coordinated by Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission.
Authorized by the five Gulf state marine resource management agencies.
NOAA Award #NA10NMF4770481.