If you’re a crabber and you’re visiting South Carolina, you should consider Charleston, one of the most known sources of crabs there. Obviously, you should also be familiar with the regulations, so you don’t end up being fined.
Limitations and Regulations
Even though Charleston doesn’t have a lack of crabs, there are a lot of limitations that make it almost impossible to crab for commercial or even for cooking purposes. For instance, you’re prohibited to catch more than 2 pots unless you purchase a Commercial Saltwater Fishing License.
Considering that many crabbers leave pots unattended and busy themselves with other things until it’s time to check on them, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources made it clear that pots cannot be left in the water for more than 5 working days, within 200 yards from the landing or without labels containing vital information about the owner: the address, name and license number.
Female crabs have to be returned in the water instantaneously if they bear eggs or already have spawn.
Possession and Size Limitations
Charleston is abundant in stone and blue crabs. Unfortunately, you cannot keep any of them. You can just catch them and put them back in the water. This is surely a deal-breaker for crabbers, but this is the bitter reality.
If a blue crab has a carapace smaller than 5”, you have to return it. The same thing goes for stone crabs whose claws are smaller than ¾ of an inch. If they’re larger than that, you can keep one of their arms (the larger one), but not their bodies. You are not allowed to remove the arm of a female crab.
In spite of the fact that you cannot possess the crabs you’ll be catching, you can get 2 spiny lobsters per day. Since these are gigantic and meaty, you’ll make up for the crabs you’ve lost big time and you’ll be able to have a royal feast.
You can keep 2 spiny lobsters only if their carapace is bigger than 3”, which makes perfect sense. Also, you are allowed to catch oysters and clams, 2 bushels and 1 bushel respectively.
That’s a lot of oysters and clams, enough for tens of meals (well, depending on how much you love shellfish). As a conclusion, even though you cannot keep crabs (only a couple of arms), you’ve got plenty of other options in Charleston, so don’t despair.