Commercial crabbing differs from recreational crabbing in several important ways. For example, a commercial crabber needs a different type of license – in Maryland, for example, there are three major license categories for commerical crabbing. They include the Limited Crab Catcher License (LCC), which permits the use of trotlines and up to 50 crab pots; the Crab Harvester License (CB3), which allows for the use of trotlines and up to 300 crab pots; and the Tidal Fish License (TFL), which is a consolidated license for the harvest of finfish and shellfish, including blue crabs with trotlines and up to 300 crab pots. Both CB3 and TFL licensees may purchase additional allocations for up to 600 pots (1 allocation) or up to 900 pots (2 allocations), with the assistance of one or two unlicensed crew members, respectively.
A recreational license can cost as little as $2 while a commercial license may cost as much as $10,000. Even commercial crab boats are significantly different from their recreational counterparts. The number of traps they put into the water far exceed what a recreational crabber can legally use. The life of a commercial crabber is very hard and relys on the unknown factor of how many crabs will be available on any given day.
Commercial Crab Pots
Commercial crab pots are much larger than the recreational ones. A commercial crabber is allowed to fish three hundred pots per person and up to nine hundred per boat. Many are fitted with cull rings, a device resembling a large rubber washer surrounding an opening in a crab trap which provides an escape for my under sized friends.
The commercial pots are baited through an opening at the top of the pot. The crab pot has upper and lower chambers with a petition (forbay) separating the lower and upper chambers, so we cannot easily get out after entering the pot for the bait. The pots are baited with menhaden or other bait fish and/or razor clams.
The bait is placed in an area of the trap so that we must enter the trap to eat. Once baited the pot is made ready for placing in the water.
After some length of time, the commercial waterman returns to the pots and one-by-one they are hauled in and emptied of their contents.
You never know what a pot may have inside. Here not only have some crabs been caught been caught, but so have fish and a turtle.