Sunday, October 3, 2010

Proposed crab rule changes in Florida

There are some proposed rule changes to for crabbing in Florida.

See this from Tampa Bay Online:

FWC proposes changes to blue crab rules

LAKELAND - The Florida Fish and
Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) proposed a series of draft rule
amendments to modify blue crab regulations. These proposals include some
recommendations by the FWC's Blue Crab Advisory Board, which helps the
Commission manage Florida's blue crab fishery, as well as some technical blue
crab amendments.

One proposed rule amendment by the board would change the
six annual regional, 10-day blue crab trap closures to occur every other year.
The January closure to the harvest of blue crabs with traps in the St. Johns
River system and the August closures in Nassau through Palm Beach counties would
occur in even-numbered calendar years only. The July closures in Broward through
Wakulla counties and the January closure in Franklin through Escambia counties
would occur in odd-numbered calendar years only. This proposed change would help
focus trap cleanup efforts in each region and lessen the economic impact of the
closures on individual crabbers.

Other board-proposed rule amendments would
change the blue crab license-endorsement transfer window from September through
December to May through February to increase opportunities for crabbers to
transfer their endorsements to someone else and allow initial blue crab trap
tags to be ordered at any time.

The FWC also is proposing technical rule
amendments that would allow qualified blue crab harvesters to designate another
of their own vessels to be used to temporarily pull blue crab traps while their
regular vessel is repaired or replaced and clarify that soft shell blue crab
harvesters may hold only two soft shell endorsements at one time.

The FWC
will hold a final public hearing on these blue crab draft rule proposals at its
December meeting in Weston. More information regarding the proposed draft rules
is available online at MyFWC.com/Commission, linked from the Sept. 1-3 meeting
agenda.

Mixed news on crab supplies

Seafood dealers and restaurants have had trouble stocking live blue crabs this summer in the Chesapeake Bay area, but not because of new problems in the Bay. Louisiana has become a major supplier of blue crabs, but the Deepwater Horizon oil spill interrupted that supply this summer, as this article on nola.com details.

It's a different story in Florida, where crab harvests are good after a rainy spring and summer. I find it a bit odd that every article I've found about the blue crab harvest in Florida includes instructions on how to cook them, but you might as well create a market for all the crabs that are caught to keep prices up.