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FWC Approves Blue Crab Rules

By: Jennifer Ryan
By: Jennifer Ryan

They're a small breed in Florida, fishermen solely dedicated to blue crabs, and soon their close-knit industry may shrink even more.

Lee Schlesinger, FWC spokesperson, says, "For the first time the program will let us know how many traps are in the fishery so we can manage the fishery better.”

A new set of rules just approved by the state caps the amount of crabbers on the water.

FWC says fishermen who yielded 500 pounds of blue crab from 2001 to 2003 qualify. Even those fishermen affected by net limitations can participate.

Daniel Barwick, a blue crabber, says, "We had a lot of displaced fishermen who were allowed 100 traps; didn't cut nobody out.”

Barwick has been catching blue crabs since childhood. He sat on the advisory board that helped draft new rules for the industry, but not all crabbers are welcoming change.

Keith Ward doesn't agree with a new rule that requires all traps be tagged, resulting in more fees that must be approved by the Legislature.

Keith Ward says, "Our group Fishing for Freedom is going to fight them. They decided to do this because they need to regulate it.”

The state says it's not about regulation, but information to find out how many crabbers and traps are on the water at all times.


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