Connect with us
Florida Keys fishermen process stone crabs. Image via AP.

APolitical

Annual stone crab claw harvest begins in Florida

Industry moves ahead with COVID-19 restrictions in place.

Florida’s annual stone crab claw harvest has started amid new rules aimed at protecting future stocks and concerns about demand for claws due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

New regulations, enforced by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, include increasing the minimum size of a harvested claw from 2 3/4 inches to 2 7/8 inches; reducing the harvest season by two weeks and modifying traps to have a 2 3/16-inch escape ring. The season started Thursday and ends May 1.

Trap modifications must be completed by the 2023-2024 season, but Gary Graves, vice president of Keys Fisheries, one of the state’s largest processors of the tasty claws, said many commercial fishermen’s traps in the Florida Keys are already compliant.

He said commercial fishermen around the state worked with FWC officials to institute the new rules to ensure future harvests.

“We’re in favor of this (new regulations) to rebuild the fishery,” Graves said, adding that about 2.1 million pounds of claws were harvested last year around Florida. “Probably in four or five years, we’ll be able to start catching three or three-and-a-half million pounds (annually) like we used to.”

Graves said the COVID-19 pandemic has fishermen on edge because most commercially harvested claws are sold to restaurants across Florida.

“Retail, I think, is strong,” Graves said. “We see a lot of people ordering (seafood) online or going to the grocery store and buying and eating at home.

“But we just don’t know what restaurants are going to do this year in Florida, which are the largest consumers of the crab,” he said.

___

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Written By

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Sign up for Sunburn

Receive our team's agenda-setting morning read of what's hot in Florida politics. Delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday.

Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson, and Kelly Hayes.
Email: Peter@FloridaPolitics.com
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Connect
Sign up for Sunburn

Receive our team's agenda-setting morning read of what's hot in Florida politics. Delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday.