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 (25 to 100 animals allowed per day per person depending on the permit). In 2002, an amendment to the plan established a biomedical permitting rule, however, no permits for biomedical bleeding are issued at this time.
View the Florida Horseshoe Crab Fishing Regulations
Florida horseshoe crab landings have been recorded since 1990. Bait and marine life landings
have 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.