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Friday, April 18 2014 3:34 PM EDT2014-04-18 19:34:46 GMT
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(WFLX)--It's that time of year again when fishermen can haul in their traps and bring up some Stone crab.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, Stone crab season runs from October 15 until May 15.
But fishermen have been able to set up traps since October 5.
This is called the "soak season," according to FWC. During the "soak season," fishermen can set up traps but they can't harvest their catch until the official start date of Stone crab season.
There are limits on what you can catch.
According to FWC, you can't take claws from a female with eggs.
The claw must be at least 2 ¾ inches long.
There's also a limit on how much you can haul in.
A person can bring in up to one gallon of claws, or two gallons per vessel, or whichever is less according to FWC.
Traps must be pulled in manually, and not by a trap-puller, which would make a boat be considered a commercial vessel.
Appropriate licenses are required for commercial vessels.
Fishermen are hoping for a better season this year.
Last year's catch was considered the worst haul in twenty years, with fishermen harvesting about 2.2 million pounds of claws.
This led to stone crab prices soaring. Jumbo claws cost about $23 a pound, large claws cost around $16 to $18 a pound, and medium claws cost consumers $10 to $12 a pound.
Experts say lingering red tides and a deadly parasite led to the dismal catch seen in 2012.