TITLE 7

Conservation

Shellfish

CHAPTER 23. BLUE CRABS (CALLINECTES SAPIDUS)


It shall be unlawful for any person to take from any waters within the jurisdiction of the State or have in his or her possession at any time any hard-shell blue crab measuring less than 5 inches from tip to tip, nor any soft-shell blue crab measuring less than 3 1/2 inches from tip to tip, nor any peeler blue crab measuring less than 3 inches from tip to tip. The minimum size of hard-shell blue crabs shall not apply to mature female blue crabs that are identified by having a rounded or u-shaped apron. The apron is the abdomen which is the rear portion of the blue crab that is folded underneath the body. Any commercial measure of blue crabs shall not contain more than 5% crabs that are less than the respective minimum size.

7 Del. C. 1953, §§ 2303, 2304; 51 Del. Laws, c. 151, § 1; 57 Del. Laws, c. 587, §§ 1, 2; 60 Del. Laws, c. 513, § 2; 67 Del. Laws, c. 194, § 5; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

It shall be unlawful for any person to take or have in his or her possession or offer for sale at any time any female blue crab bearing eggs visible thereon (sponge crabs), or any female blue crab from which the egg pouch or bunion has been removed.

7 Del. C. 1953, § 2301; 51 Del. Laws, c. 151, § 1; 60 Del. Laws, c. 513, § 2; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

(a) It shall be unlawful for any person to catch or land crabs for commercial purposes in this State unless said person has applied for and secured from the Department and has in his or her possession a valid commercial crab pot license. The fee for a resident commercial crab pot license shall be $28.75 for up to 50 pots; $57.50 for up to 100 pots; $86.25 for up to 150 pots; and $115 for up to 200 pots. The fee for nonresident commercial crab pot licenses shall be $287.50 for up to 50 pots; $575 for up to 100 pots; $862.50 for up to 150 pots; and $1,150 for up to 200 pots. Said license shall be valid only for commercial taking of crabs from 1 vessel owned and operated by the applicant or designees approved in the license. Designees for a holder of a resident commercial crab pot license must be residents of the State.

(b) The license issued pursuant to this section shall automatically expire on December 31 of each calendar year.

(c) In the event that a licensee is unable to tend his or her crab pots from the vessel specified in his or her license application, said licensee shall apply to the Department within 48 hours after the boat or vessel has been disabled for a written permit to be carried on his or her person to tend that licensee's pots from another specified vessel for a period to be specified by the Department.

(d) A commercial crab pot license may designate no more than 2 persons on said licensee's commercial crab pot license as designees. A commercial crab pot licensee's designees are authorized, whether in the presence of the licensee or not, to place, use, set or tend said licensee's crab pots while operating the vessel owned by the licensee that is listed on said licensee's commercial crab pot license.

(e) Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this section, the number of commercial crab pot licensees that may list the same vessel on their commercial crab pot license shall not exceed 3 and the total number of crab pots that 3 licensees may be licensed to place, use, set or tend from the same vessel shall not exceed 500 pots.

7 Del. C. 1953, § 2305; 51 Del. Laws, c. 151, § 1; 57 Del. Laws, c. 739, § 99; 59 Del. Laws, c. 90; 60 Del. Laws, c. 513, § 2; 67 Del. Laws, c. 260, § 1; 68 Del. Laws, c. 9, § 9; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 216, §§ 4, 5; 71 Del. Laws, c. 245, § 6.;

It shall be unlawful for any commercial crabber to catch or take, or attempt to catch or take, for commercial purposes any hard-shell, soft-shell or peeler crabs from any waters of the rivers and bays of this State and the tributaries thereof or sell, offer for sale or buy any hard-shell crabs taken from said waters, except the Delaware Bay and the Delaware River and that area of Roy's Creek which lies south of Fenwick Island Ditch.

7 Del. C. 1953, §§ 2303, 2304; 51 Del. Laws, c. 151, § 1; 57 Del. Laws, c. 587, §§ 1, 2; 60 Del. Laws, c. 513, § 2; 61 Del. Laws, c. 352, § 1.;

(a) No person shall catch and take or attempt to catch and take crabs in any of the waters under the jurisdiction of this State with any commercial crab pot between December 1 of each year and the last day of February immediately following.

(b) The Department may restrict the number of crab pots which may be set by any 1 licensee when, in its discretion, the Department determines from biological evidence that emergency restrictions are necessary to protect crabs or other shellfish resources of the State; they may do so with such advance notice as it deems necessary.

(c) No person shall catch and take or attempt to catch and take crabs by dredge in any of the waters under the jurisdiction of this State between March 31 of each year and December 15 thence next ensuing of any year.

60 Del. Laws, c. 513, § 2.;

(a) The buoys of all crab pots placed for commercial purposes shall be colored a specific color combination as assigned to each commercial crab pot licensee. The crabbing vessel specified on the license shall display the same color code assigned to the licensee on a panel measuring at least 2 feet by 2 feet. Said panel must be fully visible from either side of the vessel.

(b) It shall be unlawful for any person to lift any commercial crab pot from a vessel other than the one corresponding with the color code on that crab pot buoy. Any commercial crab pot which is not marked as specified in this section may be confiscated by the Department. Any person guilty of taking crabs from a commercial crab pot from a vessel other than the one corresponding with the color code of that pot buoy shall be fined $100.

60 Del. Laws, c. 513, § 2.;

It shall be unlawful for any person to dredge for blue crabs in this State unless said person has applied for and secured from the Department and has in his or her possession a valid crab dredger's license. The fee for a resident crab dredger's license shall be $57.50. The fee for a nonresident crab dredger's license shall be $575.

7 Del. C. 1953, § 2305; 51 Del. Laws, c. 151, § 1; 57 Del. Laws, c. 739, § 99; 59 Del. Laws, c. 90; 60 Del. Laws, c. 513, § 2; 67 Del. Laws, c. 260, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

(a) Dredging for blue crabs is permitted only on unleased shellfish grounds in Delaware Bay. Under no circumstances shall any person operate a dredge for the purpose of taking crabs over leased shellfish grounds, natural oyster beds, public tonging areas or other areas declared off limits to potting or dredging for crabs by the Secretary, pursuant to Chapters 19 through 25 of this title.

(b) It shall be unlawful for any person to use any hydraulic dredge or mechanical device which employs a vacuum or suction method for the taking or catching or harvesting of crabs from any of the waters under the jurisdiction of this State without the prior written consent of the Department which may be granted for research purposes.

(c) Those crabs of legal size and condition taken by oysterers with a valid oyster harvesting license or by a clammer with a valid commercial dredge clam license while engaged in legal dredging operations may be retained for noncommercial purposes.

60 Del. Laws, c. 513, § 2; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

It shall be unlawful for any person to unload blue crabs taken from the waters or shellfish grounds within the jurisdiction of the State at any port or unloading facilities located outside the geographic boundaries of the State.

60 Del. Laws, c. 513, § 2.;

(a) Noncommercial crabbing is permitted in any of the waters under the jurisdiction of the State unless otherwise posted by the Department.

(b) It is unlawful for any person actively engaged in noncommercial crabbing to sell any crabs.

(c) It shall be unlawful for any person to place, use, set or tend any noncommercial crab pot unless said pot is attached to an all white buoy with said person's full name and permanent mailing address inscribed either on the white buoy or on a waterproof tag attached to said buoy that is legible at all times.

(d) It shall be unlawful for any person to take in any 1 day more than 1 bushel of blue crabs unless otherwise authorized to do so by license or permit.

(e) Unless otherwise authorized, it shall be unlawful for any person to leave, place, use, set or tend any noncommercial crab pots in the tidal waters of this State between and including December 1 and the last day of February immediately following.

(f) Unless otherwise authorized, it shall be unlawful for any person who does not have a valid commercial crab pot license to have, place, use, set or tend more than 2 crab pots in the tidal waters of this State.

7 Del. C. 1953, § 2302; 51 Del. Laws, c. 151, § 1; 60 Del. Laws, c. 513, § 2; 67 Del. Laws, c. 194, § 6; 68 Del. Laws, c. 382, §§ 1-3.;

(a) It shall be unlawful for any person who places, uses or sets a crab pot in the tidal waters of this State to fail to tend and remove crabs from said crab pot at least once every 72 hours.

(b) Failure to tend and remove crabs from a crab pot in the tidal waters of this State at least 72 hours after said pot is tagged by the Department shall constitute abandonment of said crab pot.

(c) Any employee of the Department authorized to enforce this chapter shall be authorized to seize and confiscate any crab pot which has been determined to have been abandoned pursuant to subsection (b) of this section.

(d) Upon a determination that a crab pot has been abandoned and seized by the Department, ownership in said crab pot shall be forfeit to the Department.

(e) Notwithstanding the provisions set forth in subsections (a), (b) and (c) of this section, any employee of the Department authorized to enforce this chapter shall be authorized to seize any crab pot which fails to be placed, used or set in compliance with the provisions of this chapter.

(f) Title to a crab pot seized by the Department and not claimed by the lawful owner after proper notification from the Department within 90 days of said notification shall be forfeit to the Department.

68 Del. Laws, c. 382, § 4.;

(a) It shall be unlawful for a crab dredge licensee to dredge crabs from the waters of this State from any vessel other than 1 vessel owned and operated by said crab dredge licensee. The vessel shall be listed on the crab dredger's license.

(b) It shall be unlawful for a resident crab dredge licensee to list a vessel on his or her crab dredger's license if said vessel has been exclusively used in commercial fishing operation in waters outside the jurisdiction of this State during the previous 2 years. However, for a vessel acquired by a crab dredger licensee to replace a vessel listed on his or her crab dredger's license, the provision for that vessel not having been exclusively used in commercial fishing operations in waters outside the jurisdiction of this State during the previous 2 years shall not be in effect.

69 Del. Laws, c. 119, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;