NOAA Fisheries Approves Measures to Implement the Interstate Fishery Management Plan For Jonah Crab

November 12, 2019

Effective Date: December 12, 2019

We are implementing new regulations that apply to anyone retaining Jonah crabs in or from federal waters. Below is a summary of the new rules and requirements.

New Jonah Crab Regulations for Vessels

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Do I need a permit?
    • Yes. Beginning on December 12, 2019, only vessels that have a federal American lobster trap or non-trap permit may retain Jonah crabs.​​​​​​
  • What are the size restrictions?
    • The minimum size is 4.75 inches carapace width, as measured by a straight line across the widest part of the shell. For a more detailed descriptions, please refer to 50 CFR 697.2. You may not retain crabs smaller than this width.
  • What are the possession limits?
    • There is no possession limit for trap permit holders. Non-trap permit holders may retain up to 1,000 Jonah crabs, provided crabs do not exceed 50 percent of catch, by weight.
  • What other restrictions are in place?
    • Vessels cannot retain egg-bearing female Jonah crabs.
  • May I harvest Jonah crab claws?
    • While federal regulations do not prohibit harvesting claws, some state regulations may prohibit such activity or specify the amount of claws that may be taken. Please check with your state marine fisheries management agency for additional information on Jonah crab claw regulations.
  • Where can I set traps for Jonah crabs?
    • You may only set traps to target Jonah crabs in areas where your permit is already qualified to fish for lobsters.
  • Are there any trap requirements in place?
    • Any traps set to target Jonah crabs must comply with all lobster trap size, escape vents, and gear tagging and marking requirements. Each trap set to target Jonah crabs is counted towards your permit’s lobster trap limit.
  • Do I need to comply with any reporting requirements?
    • If your vessel is ONLY issued a lobster permit, you do currently not have a federal vessel trip reporting requirement. If your vessel is issued any other federal fisheries permits, you must continue to report as already required.
  • Have any reporting codes changed?
    • Because some states allow for Jonah crab claws to be harvested, we have added a Jonah crab claw-only code to the report. Please use CRJC if you are harvesting claws. 
  • To whom may I sell Jonah crabs?
    • Beginning on January 1, 2020, you may only sell Jonah crabs to federally permitted dealers with a Jonah crab endorsement.
  • Do I need to be aware of any additional state regulations?
    • To the extent possible, these federal waters measures mirror regulations already in place, though some differences exist. Please contact your state marine fisheries agency for applicable Jonah crab regulations and bear in mind that when federal and state regulations differ, you are bound to comply with the most restrictive measure.

New Jonah Crab Regulations for Federal Dealers

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Who may purchase Jonah crabs?
    • Dealers are required to have a Jonah crab endorsement on their federal dealer permit to continue to purchase Jonah crabs. You may begin requesting this endorsement on December 1, 2019. The dealer endorsement will begin being enforced on January 1, 2020.
  • From whom may I purchase Jonah crabs?
    • Beginning on December 12, 2019, only federal American Lobster vessel permit holders may retain and sell Jonah crabs. You may only purchase Jonah crabs from American Lobster federal permit holders.
  • What are the size restrictions?
    • The minimum size is 4.75 inches carapace width, as measured by a straight line across the widest part of the shell including the tips of the posterior-most, longest spines along the lateral margins of the carapace. You may not purchase crabs smaller than this size.
  • What are the possession limits?
    • There are no possession limits for federal lobster trap permit holders.  Non-trap permit holders may retain up to 1,000 Jonah crabs, provided crabs do not exceed 50 percent of their catch, by weight.
  • What other restrictions are in place?
    • Vessels cannot retain or land egg-bearing female Jonah crabs.
  • Do I need to comply with any reporting requirements?
    • You must report your purchases, consistent with the timing and process for all other fisheries.
  • Have any reporting codes changed?
    • Because some states allow for various amounts of Jonah crab claws to be harvested, we have added a Jonah crab claw-only code to the report.  Please use CRJC if you are purchasing claws.
  • Are there any federal rules for Jonah crab claws?
    • No. There are no specific federal provisions for Jonah crab claws. Please refer to your specific state regulations regarding the amount of Jonah crab claws that may be landed, if any.

 

 

Last updated by Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office on November 12, 2019