St. Johns River Blue Crab Trap Closure Starts Jan. 16 | Environment
Recreational and commercial blue crab harvesters in the St. Johns River system must remove their blue crab traps 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) to gather traps the opportunity to identify and retrieve lost and abandoned blue crab traps from the water.
The trap closure includes all waters of the St. Johns River system and its associated lakes and tributaries from west of the river’s confluence with the Intracoastal Canal (Intracoastal Waterway) in Duval County through and including Lake Hellen Blazes in Brevard County.
Traps can be placed back in the water Jan. 26. 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 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 that will occur in 2012 on the east coast of Florida. Coastal waters from the Georgia-Florida line south through Volusia County (not including the waters of the St. Johns River) will close to traps Aug. 20-29, and waters from Brevard County through Palm Beach County will close to traps Aug. 10-19. There are six regional closures total: three occurring in even-numbered years on the east coast and three in odd-numbered years on the west coast (see map).