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Summary of Information Presented at Punta Gorda and Crystal River Workshops

Summary of Information Presented at Punta Gorda and Crystal River Workshops

The FLSCA directors were present at both workshops and would like to thank members that attended one or both presentations by the University of Florida and Sea Grant teams. If you were unable to attend but would like to provide feedback to the team, we are happy to pass along any comments or questions. There will be a formal report published at a later date but we wanted to provide general information for those unable to attend. 

Note: This workshop was a collaboration by UF/IFAS and Sea Grant and was NOT mandated by the state.  It was implied that the state is NOT looking to implement any new regulations at this time.

 Project Summary: Improving Management and Harvest Practices in the Florida Stone Crab Fishery

This project aims to produce new models that will give a better understanding of how the fishery works from multiple perspectives, including population dynamics, environmental drivers, and economic factors.
Summary provided by workshop handout

Per UF/IFAS and Sea Grant: 

The take home message is that it is believed the fishery is currently operating in a pretty good place, but because the biomass was estimated to be declining  we should watch it carefully over the next few years and see how the new regulations and further trap reductions impact the stock.  Nothing seen would suggest that drastic management measures are needed at this stage.

Key Points

  • First, it’s important to remember that the model presented at the workshop has not yet undergone a scientific review and the results should be considered preliminary.  We will work with FWC if they wish to have the model reviewed prior to using it for any management decisions.
  • Similar to previous stock assessments, the model indicated that the stock has been experiencing overfishing.  The model also indicated that the spawning biomass of stone crabs has been gradually declining since 2004, and is now slightly below what would be considered a target spawning biomass.  However, the stock has been able to sustain high exploitation for several decades with only a gradual decline in biomass, indicating that the stock is fairly resilient.
  • Landings in recent years have been bouncing around the estimated MSY of 2.4 million pounds, which means that the fishery is now probably operating in a decent place.
  • Based on the above, my recommendation to FWC will be to wait and see what happens over the next few years as the cull rings and size limits take effect, and traps are further reduced in the fishery.  And then rerun the model in 3 years with data through 2024.  Hopefully we see the stock biomass stabilize or increase.
  • The fishery could be more profitable with fewer traps and a larger stock size, which would lead to higher landings with less effort.
Summary information provided by Dr. David Chagaris of UF
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