What’s the issue? Each year, the harvest of blue crabs with traps is prohibited for up to 10 consecutive days in certain areas around the state. These closures are in place to facilitate the identification and removal of traps that have become lost or abandoned and pose a potential threat to the environment and may become hazards to boaters. All blue crab traps that remain in the water (unless they are secured to private property) in areas that are subject to these closures are considered derelict and may be removed and destroyed by the FWC or by FWC-authorized, volunteer trap cleanup groups. Trap closures during odd numbered years occur on the Gulf and southeast coast (see map). On even numbered years, closures occur on the east coast only.
What do you need to know? Trap closures apply to both commercial and recreational traps, and “trap” closures are not synonymous with “fisheries” closures. During a trap closure, recreational anglers can continue to harvest blue crabs with traps if they are secured to private property such as a vessel or dock. Harvesters can also continue to take blue crabs during a blue crab trap closure with other legal gear such as fold-up traps, hook and line, lift nets, dip nets, drop nets, etc. Be aware of when and where these closures will be in effect before you place your traps in the water. Traps must be removed from the water before 12:01 a.m. local time on the first day of each closure. You can stay up to date with current regulations by checking the FWC website: MyFWC.com/Fishing/Saltwater/Recreational, print and electronic publications, the electronic newsletter “Hot Sheet”, news releases and social media. If you plan to use blue crab traps, please be aware of the trap closures and help others by sharing this information.
How can you help? You can help to remove lost and abandoned traps from Florida waters by organizing or participating in a volunteer derelict trap and trap debris cleanup event that has been authorized by the FWC. It is illegal to remove or otherwise molest traps that do not belong to you without the express written permission of the trap owner, or without prior authorization from the FWC to conduct a volunteer trap cleanup event. The FWC does not organize or coordinate volunteer group trap cleanup events. If you are interested in participating in an organized derelict trap cleanup event, please contact the event organizer for information on how you may volunteer. Additional information regarding these cleanups and how to get involved online at: MyFWC.com/Fishing/Saltwater/Trap-debris/Volunteer-program/.
When and where are the 2013 trap closures?
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.