TALLAHASSEE — Florida’s fishermen are hoping the upcoming stone crab season is better than last season’s dismal haul.
The recreational and commercial stone crab claw harvests open today in state and federal waters. The harvests continue through mid-May.
The rules are the same in both state and federal waters. Recreational harvesters can use up to five stone crabs trap per person. There’s also a daily recreational bag limit of one gallon of claws per person or two gallons per vessel, whichever is less.
When it comes to stone crabs, fishermen usually take just one claw from each crab, which is then returned to the water. Those claws must be at least 2 3/4 inches in length.
Last year’s stone crab haul was considered one of the worst in the last two decades, with roughly 2.2 million pounds of claws harvested, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission biologist Tom Matthews told The Key West Citizen.
That was the smallest haul since Hurricane Wilma in 2005, when fishermen lost large numbers of traps, Matthews said.