Florida blue crab traps are being halted for a temporary period.
On Tuesday the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission announced that recreational and commercial blue crab traps must be removed from certain state waters on the east coast of Florida prior to August 10, the first day of two 10-day trap closures.
Now, if you have ever tasted these precious blue crabs boiled in Old Bay seasoning and covered in butter and garlic, then you know just how tough this ruling can be. Trust me, I know this personally, as do my friends who have the traps, the wooden mallets and the techniques of cooking these delectable crabs down to a science.
But this is when it gets complicated.
Apparently the FWC has stated that blue crab traps may not be in state waters (shore to 3 nautical miles, including intra-coastal waterways) in Brevard through Palm Beach counties, from August 10 through 19 and from all state waters from the Georgia-Florida line through Volusia County August 20 through 29. All waters of the St. Johns River system are excluded in both of these closures.
Are you sure you got all of that?
Well, you better be sure, because these closures 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. And take the traps they will.
To be fair, all recreational fishermen recognize that 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.
We can all agree that none of that is good for the marine environment. And of course, none of us want that to occur.
Healthy crab, shrimp and bait fish populations are critical to game fish populations throughout the Florida coastline.
And that is what all responsible saltwater environmental enthusiasts should support.