Recreational and commercial blue crab traps in all waters of the St. Johns River system must be removed from the water before Jan. 16, the first day of a 10-day trap closure. This closure will give groups authorized by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) the opportunity to identify and retrieve lost and abandoned blue crab traps from the water.
The closure includes all waters of the St. Johns River system and its associated lakes and tributaries from west of the St. Johns River’s intersection with the Intracoastal Canal, through and including Lake Hellen Blazes in Brevard County.
Traps may be placed back in the water in this area starting Jan. 26, although closures may be reduced in duration if it is determined that the number of lost and abandoned traps in the region will take less time to remove. Until the trap season reopens, 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 if the traps are attached to a dock or other private property.
Lost and abandoned blue crab traps are a problem in the blue crab fishery because they can continue to trap crabs and fish when left in the water. They can also be unsightly in the marine environment, damage sensitive habitats and pose navigational hazards to boaters on the water.
The closure is one of three regional, 10-day blue crab trap closures in 2018 on the Atlantic coast of Florida. There are six regional closures total: three in odd-numbered years on the west coast and three in even-numbered years on the east coast.
For more information regarding the FWC’s trap-retrieval program, blue crab trap closure dates, and regulations and cleanup events, go online to MyFWC.com/Fishing.