The Horseshoe Crab Fishery in Florida

In Florida, most horseshoe crabs are collected live for use in aquaria and research.

Horseshoe crabs are harvested commercially in the U.S. for three purposes: bait (conch and eel fisheries), marine life (aquaria, research, etc.) and biomedical use (principally for the blood). Compared to other states, particularly those along the Atlantic coast, Florida does not have a very large horseshoe crab fishery. In March 2000, a fisheries management plan for horseshoe crabs went into effect in Florida; the plan required a license to harvest and set a limit on the number of animals each licensee could harvest per day (100 animals allowed per day per person). In July 2002, an amendment to the plan established a biomedical permitting rule. Since that time, no one has applied for a biomedical permit and harvesters reported few trips during which horseshoe crabs were collected for bait. Thus, the vast majority of the horseshoe crab fishery in Florida is for live use.

graph shows horseshoe crab landings by year from 1998 to 2012, caption belowFlorida horseshoe crablandingshave been recorded since 1990. Bait and marine life landings
been recorded separately since 1997. Bait landings were high in 1999 because new
regulations restricted harvest in other states and Florida did not yet have regulations in place.

View the Florida Horseshoe Crab Fishing Regulations

FWC Facts:
Florida's Lake Trafford is the southernmost black crappie fishery in the United States.

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