Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

Crabbing in NY

Crustacean Omnibus Regulatory Package Update

This regulatory package, effective March 28, 2018, includes the requirement for terrapin excluder devices (TEDs) measuring 1-3/4" x 4-3/4" on commercial and recreational crab pots set in near shore harbors, creeks, coves, rivers and tributaries in New York's Marine and Coastal District.

An interactive map (link leaves DEC's website) is available for your reference.

Diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin) are found in the local bays and estuaries of the marine district, and may enter crab traps in search of food. Once inside a crab trap, many terrapin cannot find the exit; they cannot surface or breathe, and they drown in the trap. Installation of TEDs on crab traps prevent many terrapin from entering crab traps.

A small number of TEDs (provided by The Nature Conservancy and Seatuck) will be available to crab pot fishers that have reported blue crab landings within the last two years, on a first come/first serve basis at no cost. Please contact us at 631-444-0429 or for more information.

Blue Crab

Recreational Crabbing

A young girl holding a blue crab
Recreational crabber holding a blue crab

New York State has thousands of miles of shoreline that provide abundant crabbing opportunities (including the Hudson River). Catching crabs can be accomplished by using baited crab pots that are set and checked frequently. Be sure to review the crab pot regulations (link leaves DEC's website) before setting your crab pots. Another method of crabbing is to simply use a baited hand line to lure crabs to you and a dip net to capture the crabs. Please clear your lines and dispose of them properly at the end of your trip to prevent unnecessary pollution in our waterways.

The Recreational Marine Fishing Registry is not required when taking crab recreationally. But, be sure to visit our Saltwater Fishing Regulations page for information about size and possession limits before you go crabbing!

We are asking for the assistance of recreational crabbers in reporting their crab harvest using the Recreational Blue Crab Survey and in reporting any tagged crabs you may encounter to the NYSDEC Blue Crab Tagging Program page. The information you provide us will help us better manage the NY blue crab fishery.

We strongly recommend that you review the NYS Department of Health's New York State Blue Crab Cooking & Eating Guide (link leaves DEC's website) before you cook and eat your crabs.

Finally, if you feel that you have caught a record size blue crab (> 8"), we would like to hear from you. Please visit the New York State Marine Fishing Records page for more information.

Other Crab

Other species of crab that are commonly harvested for food include the lady (calico) crab, and the rock crab. Green crabs and mole crabs are commonly harvested for use as bait. Be sure to visit our Saltwater Fishing Regulations page before you go crabbing to learn the daily possession limit for these species.

Commercial Crabbing

a bunch of caught crabs together

A commercial crab permit is required to harvest blue crab commercially in New York. The commercial crab fishery is a limited entry fishery. For more information about the commercial crab permit, please visit the Marine Permits and Licenses page.

Size limits and gear restrictions exist for the blue crab fishery. For more information about specific blue crab management measures please visit the Commercial Limits for Lobsters, Crabs & Whelk page and be sure to review the crab pot regulations (link leaves DEC's website) page before setting your crab pots.

Please note: Any person who is the holder of a marine commercial crab permit is required to submit a Vessel Trip Report (VTR) for each commercial fishing trip taken. For more information, please visit the Vessel Trip Reports page.

We are asking for the assistance of commercial crabbers in reporting any tagged crabs you may encounter to the NYSDEC Blue Crab Tagging Program page.

Invasive Species

Invasive species are non-native species that are introduced to our waters. The introduction of these species causes or is likely to cause harm to the ecosystem. These species can spread rapidly and compete with native species of marine life.

Some examples of invasive crab species include the Chinese mitten crab (Eriocheir sinensis), and the dungeness crab (Cancer magister). If you capture an invasive species, do not release it. Instead photograph the crab and note the location and date of capture, then call 631-444-0444 to report it.

Remember, never release any non-native animal or plant into the wild. This includes marine animals bought from a market or pet store. For more information about marine invasive species, visit the Marine Invasive Species webpage.

More about Crabbing in NY: