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FWC approves draft language; directs staff to continue working on diamondback terrapin conservation proposal

Staff Report

At its December meeting, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved draft language and directed staff to continue working on diamondback terrapin conservation proposals that are part of a larger approach to prevent further decline of the species. 

Throughout their range, diamondback terrapin populations are in decline due to a variety of issues, such as habitat loss, growing popularity in the global pet trade and illegal collection, predation, and climate change. Because of overlapping habitat, there is also a potential for terrapins to be accidentally caught in blue crab traps. 

Diamondback terrapins are the only turtles that live in the salt marsh.

Staff will continue looking into prohibiting the take and possession of diamondback terrapins as well as the use and utility of bycatch reduction devices (BRD) in blue crab traps as one way to minimize the potential of adult terrapins from entering crab traps. Staff were also directed to continue looking at potential impacts to the blue crab industry. 

Diamondback terrapin eggshells.

The FWC has been gathering public feedback on the future management of diamondback terrapins as well as the blue crab trap fishery and the use of BRDs. 

Staff will bring a proposal for changes to a future FWC Commission meeting for further, and possibly final, consideration.

For more information on the draft proposals, including the December 2020 Commission meeting presentation, visit MyFWC.com/Commission and click on “Commission Meetings.” 

A diamondback terrapin with a repaired shell.

To share input on the prohibition of take and possession of diamondback terrapins, email Freshwater.Turtles@MyFWC.com. To share input on bycatch reduction devices, visit MyFWC.com/SaltwaterComments. 

cold-stunned diamondback terrapin

Diamondback terrapins are medium-sized turtles that live in brackish water habitats statewide, including salt marshes, barrier islands, mangrove swamps, tidal creeks and rivers. They eat a variety of foods including snails, crabs, clams, mussels, worms, fish and plants. Five subspecies occur in Florida, three of which can be found nowhere else in the world. For more information on diamondback terrapins, visit MyFWC.com/Terrapin.