TAMPA, Fla. - You once again have a chance to crack a stone crab claw in a seafood restaurant and devour the sweet meat that lies within it. Stone crab season kicks off Thursday in Florida, however, this time around, state wildlife officials have set some new ground rules.
The season, for one, will be two weeks shorter, ending on May 2, 2021.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the stone crab population is likely being overfished. Officials said it's possible the stone crab has seen a decline in population since 2000.
Stonecrabbers must sign-up for stone crab trap registration numbers at gooutdoorsflorida.com. Those who are at least 16 must complete the no-cost registration, and place their registration number on their traps before using them.
Other regulations include:
- The minimum claw size limit will be 2 7/8 inches (an 1/8 inch increase).
- Possession of whole stone crabs on the water will be limited to two checker boxes, each up to 3 feet by 2 feet by 2 feet OR a total volume of 24 cubic feet. Checker boxes are used to hold crabs onboard a vessel before they are measured and legal-sized claws are removed.
- The season will now end on May 2.
- All plastic and wood stone crab traps will need to be outfitted with a 2 3/16-inch escape ring before the 2023/2024 season.
The regulations apply to state and federal waters. For more information, head over to MyFWC.com/Marine.