Beginning today, in St Johns and other east Florida counties from Nassau through Volusia, recreational and commercial blue crab traps must be removed in preparation for a 10-day trap closure allowing the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to identify and retrieve lost and abandoned blue crab traps from the water.
The closure is from August 20 through August 29. The St. Johns River system west of the river’s confluence with the Intracoastal Canal (Intracoastal Waterway) is not included because it closed earlier this year.
Traps can be placed back in the water after the last day of the trap closure starting August 30. Until then, blue crabs may be harvested with other gear, such as dip nets and fold-up traps. Blue crab harvesters may also use standard blue crab traps during the closure as long as the traps are secured to a dock or other private property.
Lost and abandoned blue crab traps are a problem in the blue crab fishery because, when left in the water, they can continue to trap crabs and fish. They can also be unsightly in the marine environment, damage sensitive habitats and pose navigational hazards to boaters on the water.
There are six regularly scheduled regional closures in total: three occurring in even-numbered years on the east coast and three in odd-numbered years on the west coast.