Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has an update for blue crab trappers asked to remove their traps last week.
Commercial and recreational blue crab traps can go back in the waters of Southwest Florida on July 15, instead of July 20. As previously reported, this notice effects the areas between the Pasco-Hernando county line and Broward-Palm Beach county line.
The reason for ending the trap retrieval program early in this area is that it was completed ahead of schedule.
Next up, the FWC will be focusing blue crab trap retrieval efforts on the coastline of areas between Hernando and Wakulla counties. This will include all the waters of Ochlockonee River and Bay.
The region, known as the North Central Gulf counties, has its blue crab trap closure going into effect later this month on July 20. If all goes according to schedule, it’s set to be lifted on July 30.
However, if trap retrieval is completed early it could be sooner.
In January, the blue crab trap closure scheduled for the Panhandle was canceled after no derelict traps were found. Now, the Southwest Florida closure was lifted early.
Blue crab trap retrieval is an important conservation effort for Florida’s coastline ecosystem.
Derelict blue crab traps are those no longer in the possession of a commercial or recreational crab trapper and therefore remain in Florida waters, unmonitored.
According to the organization Tampa Bay Watch, this often happens when a float or line is accidentally severed from a trap, or when they float away during inclement weather.
These traps pose a number of hazards. Primary among them being a danger to any marine life that gets closed in the lost trap.
Removing derelict traps is good for Florida shorelines because it promotes a healthy ecosystem with fewer hazards for people and marine life and less unsightly debris.
For more information about the trap retrieval program implemented by the FWC, like additional trap closure dates and regulations, visit MyFWC.com/Fishing or call Pamela Gruver, Trap Retrieval Coordinator, at 850-487-0554.