Fla.’s stone crab season officially started on Oct. 15 with new regulations to preserve one of the state’s most valuable piscaries.
Paul Jablonski, a commercial fisherman who’s been participating in the stone crab season for 12 years, has seen no change in this year’s stone crab season compared to past seasons.
“I feel like changing the new stone crab laws has had some effect [on fishing for stone crab] but not as much as [other fishermen] think,” Jablonski said.
The stone crab season and regulations were created to make sure the stone crab population doesn’t decline at a drastic rate, but even with these precautions, the stone crab population is dwindling.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the population of these crabs have been steadily declining since 2000, and scientist have calculated it to be a 20 percent decrease.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission responded to this decline in the stone crab population by making stone crab season two weeks shorter. Stone crab season will now end on May 2, instead of May 15 like previous years.
“I think shortening the stone crab season is a good way to help protect the fishery,” Jablonski said.
Along with a shorter season, the FWC enforced minor, but stricter fishing regulations. The new regulations include a change to the minimum size of a claw requirement. The stone crab claw must be at least 2 ⅞ inches, ⅛ longer than last year’s requirements. Also, the possession of whole crabs on vessels will now be limited to filling up a container at a maximum size of 24 cubic feet. Trap size was also altered. Plastic and wood stone crab traps will now require a 2 3/16” escape ring by 2023/2024 season.
Nick Bailey, a Jupiter High sophomore who has participated in stone crab season for the past six years, is happy for these regulation changes since they are preventing the stone crab population from declining.
“I’ll always support sustainable changes for this kind of industry,” Bailey said.
For more information on the full list of regulations for this stone crab season, visit https://myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/recreational/stone-crab/.