Ecosystem Considerations – Species of Concern – FL Stone Crab

Species of Concern


Sea Turtles

There are five species of sea turtles that are found in the Gulf of Mexico: loggerhead (Caretta caretta), Kemp’s Ridley (Lepidochelys kempii), green (Chelonia mydas), hawksbill (Eretomoochelus imbricate), and leatherback (Dermochelyz coriacea). All five species are listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA, NOAA – Office of Protected Resources(OPR)). A Biological Opinion for the stone crab fishery was conducted in 2009 to evaluate the effects of the fishery on threatened or endangered species. The authors concluded that continued operation of the stone crab fishery was not likely to adversely affect sea turtles.

Smalltooth Sawfish

Smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) are elasmobranchs, which is a group of fishes that includes sharks, skates, and rays. They occur in the tropical and subtropical Atlantic Ocean and are most commonly found off the southern tip of Florida (Florida Museum of Natural History, NOAA – OPR). They are listed as endangered and bycatch in various fisheries is listed as the main threat and the reason for decline of the species. However, based on the 2009 Biological Opinion, stone crab fishing is not likely to adversely affect the smalltooth sawfish population in Florida.

Acropora Corals

Elkhorn and staghorn corals (staghorncoral_keysnms spp.) are branching corals that are listed as endangered throughout their range in the Southern Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico (NOAA OPR – Staghorn Coral, NOAA OPR-Elkhorn Coral). The EFH amendment notes that while stone crab traps are often associated with corals, traps are not placed on coral, rather nearby. Both have experienced drastic population reduction since the 1980s, and threats include disease, hurricanes, predation,  bleaching, algae overgrowth, sedimentation, and temperature and salinity variation. Because stone crabs may inhabit coral reefs, and traps may be set near corals the 2009 Biological Opinion also evaluated the effects of the fishery on Acropora corals. It concluded that the fishery is not likely adversely affect critical habitat for Acropora because most fishing occurs outside the critical habitat and the affects a trap would have on Acropora would be insignificant (Biological Opinion 2009).


Previous: Ecosystem Considerations                                                                                                    Next: Derelict Traps


Return to FL Stone 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.