Florida Stone Crab Management

Management Structure

The Florida stone crab fishery, which is fished within Florida state territorial waters and federal waters, is managed under the Florida state legislature and associated regulatory bodies, primarily FWC. The mission of FWC is to manage “fish and wildlife resources for their long-term well-being and the benefit of the people.” FWRI, the research arm of FWC, is focused on providing scientific data on Florida’s natural resources to managers and to the general public (FWC – Marine Fisheries Research).

Brief History of Management Changes

1973 – Florida state legislature allowed harvesting both claws from both sexes of stone crabs, as long as both claws are legal-sized and that the female crabs were not carrying eggs.
1981 – GMFMC developed Stone Crab FMP.
1982 – Amendment 1 to FMP specified a procedure for modifying the zoned area to resolve the gear conflict.
1984 – Amendment 2 to FMP established procedures for resolving gear conflicts in central west Florida.
1986 – Amendment 3 to Stone Crab FMP included management measures to enhance survival of crabs held on board vessels and prohibited harvest of egg-bearing female crabs. It also rescinded the logbook reporting provision and substituted the Florida trip ticket system.
1991 – Amendment 4 to Stone Crab FMP contained provisions for adding a scientifically measurable definition of overfishing and an action plan to arrest overfishing, should it occur, as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Act National Standards (50 CFR 602), a section on vessel safety considerations,  and a revised habitat section as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
1995 – Amendment 5 to Stone Crab FMP placed a three-year moratorium on registration of stone crab vessels by the Regional Administrator (RA) of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The moratorium lasted until 1998 at the proposal from Florida Legislature while the industry considered development of a limited access system.
1998 – Amendment 6 to Stone Crab FMP extended the moratorium on the issuance of registration of stone crab vessels by NMFS through June 30, 2002.
2000 – Florida Legislature approves trap reduction plan.
2001 – Amendment 7 to Stone Crab FMP creates a trap reduction program for the EEZ that complements a similar program for the Florida fishery. Trap certificates issued will be reduced when transferred. Certificates can be bought, sold, and transferred.
2001 – Amendment 8 to Stone Crab FMP established Tortugas Marine Reserve
2002 – Florida trap reduction plan implemented.
2011 – Federal Stone Crab FMP repealed and management of the fishery in federal waters turned over to FWC.

Current Regulations

See Florida Administrative Code Chapter 68B-13

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