Crab, if prepared correctly, can be one of the most delicious additions to your table. However, as most of us know, the best-tasting crab is usually the freshest, and if you’re looking to catch or buy crab, you may want to know how long crab season is. You may also wonder when and how long crab season is if you’re looking to get in on the action or want to get a job on one of the crab-catching boats.
Depending on the type and area, crab seasons can vary. However, by looking at individual crab species, you can determine the length of time they are allowed to be caught. For example, blue crabs have a season of 8 to 8.5 months, while most Alaskan crabs have a season of around 4 to 4.5 months.
No matter the reason for wondering, the length of a crab season can vary dramatically, so it is always better to research the type of crab and the areas where it is available. Luckily, you do not need to search for long since we have made a list of the most common crab types for the dinner table and listed the kind of crab, the season start and end dates, and the length of the season for your convenience.
How Long Is Crab Season For Different Crabs?
Though it is hard to pinpoint how long a general crab season is, if you look at all the individual crabs, there are usually designated times when they should and are allowed to be caught recreationally and for profit.
Since the crabs we enjoy having on the table aren’t all located in the same area, there will also be different times of year for the different types of crab. Below is a list of the most popular crabs, their season, and how long it is.
The Blue Crab Season
According to the documents made public by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, the season length for Blue Crabs ranges from around six months to about eight and a half months, depending on how you plan on getting your crabs.
When looking at the season limits, you are allowed to catch Blue Crab utilizing a hard crab pot between March the 17th and November the 30th. These dates mean that the season for Blue Crabs would be around eight and a half months long.
For other means of catching crabs, expressly, the methods mentioned in the documents provided by the Virginia Marine Resource Commission, the Blue Crab season is between April the 15th and October the 15th. Therefore, the season when using other means of catching crabs is around six months long.
The King Crab Season
Though there are different types of King Crab, including the red and brown variants, they all have a similar season, and during this time, you will also get served the freshest crab at restaurants close enough to where they get caught. Because King Crab is such a popular dish and has gotten endangered in the past, the King Crab season is much shorter than other crab seasons.
Generally speaking, the season for catching King Crab is around two months long at the end of every year. However, the fishing industry is now highly regulated because of previous bad practices. The season can be shorter or longer depending on the year and how the King Crab population has grown or decreased.
According to most knowledgeable sources, the regular season starts around the middle of October and ends in the middle of January. Roughly calculated, the season lasts for around two months when no further restrictions are applicable. It is, however, best to note that the King Crab season may also differ slightly depending on the type and the area they get found.
The Dungeness Crab Season
The Dungeness Crab season has significantly changed in recent years because of various factors, including meat yields. For this reason, it is hard to determine when or how long the Dungeness Crab season is. It is also essential to state that different areas use different means of regulation, and some places have other season times.
The regulations for California created and enforced by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife state that the Dungeness Crab season usually starts around November and lasts until the end of July. However, most commercial Dungeness Crab fishing usually happens earlier in the season and mostly lasts between the beginning of November and the end of January.
The Dungeness Crab season is usually around eight to nine months long, depending on the restrictions to counteract overfishing. However, if you consider the time when most commercial companies are getting their Dungeness Crab, the commercial season may be as short as one and a half to two months.
The Peekytoe Crab Season
Though they weren’t always one of the most sought-after types of crab, after some brilliant marketing and renaming of the species, Peekytoe Crabs, also known as Maine or Rock Crabs, have become very popular for the dinner table or at restaurants.
The University of Maine says that the crabs you can catch in that area get harvested throughout the year, meaning that the Peekytoe or Rock Crab season is a year long. However, there are some months of the year when the crabs are at their most significant and allow for a more considerable profit margin when fishing, which is the time of Fall.
Because these crabs are more popular and commonly caught during Fall, they have a season that spans a couple of months, from the beginning of September, until late December. If you are looking to catch Peekytoe Crabs specifically during the time of the year that they are most popular, you can regard the Peekytoe Crab season to be around three to four months long.
The Snow Crab Season
Though they are not as popular as the Red King Crab variant, Snow Crabs are a wonderful treat all on their own. Since they are called Snow Crab, they usually get found in icy water, and though the season is longer than that of the King Crab, the season is still limited.
According to the Maine Lobster Now website, the Snow Crab Season is around four to six months long, starting late Fall and often only stopping a couple of weeks after Summer starts. However, it is best to note that the dates mentioned above apply specifically to the Snow Crab season in the US since other countries may vary.
The Stone Crab Season
The Stone Crab Season, though still applicable to this type of crab, is a bit different from other crabs that you will usually find on a dinner table or at a restaurant. Instead of selling the whole crab, during harvesting, only one claw gets removed from this crab since that is the only part that gets eaten. In the year to year and a half after harvest, this crab will regrow the claw and be ready to harvest again.
According to Florida regulations by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Stone Crab season is from October the 15th to May the 1st. By looking at these dates, we can determine that the regular Stone Crab season is around seven to seven and a half months long, and during this time, you will also find the freshest Stone Crab on offer at restaurants and shops.
Is Crab Season The Same For Individuals And For Fisheries?
Since there is a significant difference in the number of crabs an individual can catch compared to how much a fishery can capture, the seasons aren’t always the same. Some crabs that get caught commercially are also only available in hard-to-reach places, making it much less likely that individuals will attempt to go fishing for them.
With this in mind, for some types of crab, individuals with the necessary permits can catch crabs throughout the year. In contrast, companies and fisheries are only allowed to harvest their crabs during a specific season.
However, some types of crab are more valuable than others, and some have strict guidelines to ensure we do not take so many out of the water that they cannot reproduce in the future. For this reason, crabs like the King Crab get much more strictly monitored, and whether you are an individual or working for a fishery, you need to stick to the allocated time of year to catch these crabs.
Why Are There Specific Crab Seasons?
Crab seasons are put in place to ensure that humanity does not cause a specific crab species to go extinct by catching a lot of it all year round. Additionally, the seasons put in place also get accompanied by strict rules about which crabs you are allowed to take and which not, including the fact that female crabs with eggs are to be left in the water to reproduce.
Though the seasons you are allowed to catch crab are put in place to protect the crab population, it also often corresponds with the time of year when these crabs are the biggest and have the most meat.
Whether you are looking for fresh crab, want to catch some yourself, or want seasonal work aboard one of the crabbing ships, you must pay close attention to the type of crab you’re looking to acquire. Depending on the type of crab you want, the season can be year-round or as short as one and a half months of the year. Be sure to do your research before you start pulling crabs out of the water.