FWC rule for recreational crab traps goes into effect
Starting in March, recreational crab traps in Florida will be required to have rigid funnel openings no larger than 2 x 6 inches at the narrowest point or 2 x 6-inch bycatch reduction devices installed to reduce accidental trapping of diamondback terrapins, which has been a significant threat to the species.
The rule was approved by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) in December 2021 and goes into effect on March 1. It is part of a larger effort to conserve terrapins, a small turtle species found in brackish waters across the state.
Studies have shown that BRDs can greatly decrease incidental terrapin mortality by preventing them from entering crab traps, while still allowing blue crab catch. With this requirement, the FWC hopes to ensure the continued survival and recovery of terrapin populations in Florida. BRDs can be installed on existing crab traps and a limited supply of these devices are available for free to Florida’s recreational crabbers. Contact FWC’s Division of Marine Fisheries Management by phone at 850-487-0554 or by email at Marine@MyFWC.com for more information on where to get BRDs at no cost.
Diamondback terrapins are medium-sized turtles that live in brackish water habitats statewide, including salt marshes, barrier islands, mangrove swamps, tidal creeks and rivers. They eat a variety of foods including snails, crabs, clams, mussels, worms, fish and plants. Five of the seven subspecies occur in Florida, three of which can be found nowhere else in the world. More information on diamondback terrapins can be found at MyFWC.com/Terrapin.
For recreational blue crab trap regulations, visit MyFWC.com/Marine and click on “Recreational Regulations” and “Blue Crab” under the “Crabs, Lobster and other Shellfish.”