Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission is asking Southwest Florida blue crab trappers to remove their traps by July 10.
In a July 5 bulletin, the commission stated:
“Recreational and commercial blue crab traps in state waters from the Palm Beach-Broward county line to the Pasco-Hernando county line must be removed from the water before July 10, the first day of a 10-day trap closure.
“This closure will give groups authorized by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) the opportunity to identify and retrieve lost and abandoned blue crab traps from the water.”
Commercial and recreational traps can go back into the water after 10 days on July 20. In the meantime, trappers are being asked to use other means to harvest Southwest Florida blue crabs, like dip nets and fold-up traps.
Routine trap retrieval efforts like this one help keep Florida’s gulf, bay and oceanic ecosystems thriving because derelict traps can enclose on crabs and other sea life causing hazards.
The area affected by the July 10 trap closure extends from Pasco County, around the Southern tip of the state, and ends at Broward and Palm Beach Counties, and is the second leg of a three-part effort to clean Florida’s waters of the potentially dangerous and unsightly traps.
After July 20, cleanup efforts will move to the North Central gulf counties.
In January, crab trappers in the Panhandle were scheduled to adhere to trap closures that included Ochlockonee River and Ochlockonee Bay. However, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission canceled that trap closure period due to a lack of derelict traps.
This is the last blue crab trapping season before new regulations take effect for crab trappers.
Starting in January 2020, all crab trappers age 16 or older will be required to take a free online course and register blue crab traps. For stone crab trappers, trap registration starts with the October 2019 season.