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Skip Navigation LinksDNREC : News : Fish and Wildlife Enforcement agents encourage crabbers to follow Delaware crabbing regulations

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Contact: Sgt. Gregory Rhodes, Division of Fish & Wildlife Enforcement, 302-739-9913 or 302-542-6102, or Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902 

Fish and Wildlife Enforcement agents encourage crabbers
to follow Delaware crabbing regulations

DOVER (Aug. 13, 2012) – Blue crabs are one of Delaware’s most popular seafood catches, and plenty of recreational crabbers frequent favorite crabbing spots during the season. However, not all of them follow Delaware’s Fisheries regulations, as evidenced by the more than 300 crabbing-related citations written by DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife Enforcement agents this year.

“Delaware’s crabbing regulations are designed to protect and conserve our state’s valuable blue crab populations for the present and future, while allowing crabbers to catch and enjoy this popular delicacy,” said DNREC Fisheries Administrator John Clark.

“Fish and Wildlife Enforcement is tasked with achieving public compliance with Delaware’s fish and wildlife regulations through education and enforcement actions,” said Sgt. Gregory Rhodes of Fish and Wildlife Enforcement. “We encourage anyone crabbing Delaware waters to become more familiar with our blue crab regulations before they head out to set their pots or drop their lines.”

To help crabbers in this respect, Fish and Wildlife Enforcement offers a summary of key Delaware crabbing regulations.

·         The most common crab-related violation this year so far has been crabbing without a fishing license. Since 2008, Delaware has required recreational crabbers, along with freshwater and saltwater anglers and clammers, to purchase a Delaware fishing license. A resident license costs just $8.50; the fine for being caught without one is $106.50.

·         Another common violation this year has involved possession of undersized blue crabs. The minimum size for keeping male and immature female blue crabs is 5 inches, measured from point to point on the top shell. The minimum size for soft-shell blue crabs is 3.5 inches, and 3 inches for peeler blue crabs. Since female blue crabs may not measure 5 inches when they reach maturity and stop growing, regulations allow crabbers to keep mature females under 5 inches. Mature females (sooks) are identified by rounded apron on underside; immature females have a V-shaped apron.

·         Regulations also prohibit possession of females bearing eggs, known as sponge crabs, which are identifiable by orange eggs visible under their apron. Egg-bearing females must be returned to the water immediately.

·         Recreational crabbers are prohibited from selling blue crabs.

·         The daily limit of crabs for a recreational crabber is 1 bushel.

·         Delaware has a set of regulations that cover recreational use of crab pots:

o   Recreational crabbers may use no more than two crab pots at a time. Delaware does not have a limit on hand lines and collapsible wire traps.

o   All crab pots must be fitted with a by-catch reduction device. The device is a handmade or purchased rigid rectangle of metal or plastic that is securely attached to the entrance of a crab pot to help keep terrapins out.

o   All crab pots – both recreational and commercial – must be properly marked with floats. Recreational pots must have the owner’s name and full address, either on a white float or in a waterproof container attached to the white float.

o   Only the owner of a crab pot is permitted to tend it and remove crabs from it. Anyone other than the owner tending a recreational or commercial crab pot faces a fine for tampering.

o   Crab pot owners are required to tend their pots at least once every 72 hours. If not, the crab pot is considered abandoned and may be seized; the owner may face a fine.

o   All crab pots must be removed from the water each year from Dec. 1 to the last day of February.

For more information on crabbing regulations, please check the 2012 Delaware Fishing Guide, available online at and at fishing license dealers throughout the state, or call the Fisheries Section at 302-739-9914.

Citizens are encouraged to report fish and wildlife and boating violations to the Delaware Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Section by calling 302-739-4580.

Vol. 42, No. 309

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