MIAMI (CBSMiam) – It’s a favorite time of year for South Florida seafood lovers.

On Thursday, stone crab season officially got under way for commercial and recreation fishermen to hunt for the tasty crustaceans in state and federal waters.

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But there are a strict set of rules that must be followed:

• When a crab is caught, a claw is removed, the body is thrown back
• Stone crab claws must be at least 2¾ inches in length
• Crabs must be captured in baited traps, declawed and released
• Egg bearing females cannot be declawed
• No hooks or spears are allowed

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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 take only one claw from each crab, which is then regenerated over time.

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Florida Keys fisherman definitely benefit from the 7-month stone crab season. They harvest, on average, about two million pounds of claws, or about 40-percent of all stone crab claws taken statewide, according to the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association.