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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – It’s almost time to draw the butter and dip into one of South Florida’s favorite seafood delicacies.  Stone crab season opens October 15th. But there are some strict rules for recreational and commercial fishermen who can hunt for the tasty crustaceans in state and federal waters.

  • When catching catch a crab the claws can be removed, but throw back the crab
  • Crabs must be captured in baited traps, declawed and released
  • Egg bearing females cannot be declawed 
  • No hooks or spears are allowed
  • Stone crab claws must be at least 2¾ inches in length to be harvested legally
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(Source: FWC)

(Source: FWC)

The rules for traps have also changed recently for Collier, Monroe, and Miami-Dade Counties. Effective Oct. 5th, the use of round entrances (also known as throats or funnels) are no longer allowed. Only rectangular or rounded rectangular entrances are allowed and they can’t be larger than 5½ by 3 1/8 inches at the most narrow portion of the opening. Stone crab traps being used in other areas of the state may have an entrance that is 5 ½ by 3 ½ inches.

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Click Here for a complete list of rules and regulations from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The season runs through May 15.

The nice thing about eating stone crab claws, other than they are delicious, is that stone crab claws are the only renewable resource from the water. Crabbers usually take only one claw from each crab, which is then regenerated over time.  A crab that is returned to the water with one claw intact is able to get more food in a shorter amount of time and therefore regrow its claw faster.

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There is a recreational daily bag limit of 1 gallon of claws per person or 2 gallons per vessel, whichever is less.