Stone crab claws are considered a delicacy by some and for many southwest Florida fisheries, the season is a critical money-making time of year. We’re in the heart of stone crab season, which began in October and ends in May. The 2017-2018 season started strong, but went to a low point around Thanksgiving.
Howie Grimm is the owner of Grimm’s Stone Crab in Everglades Cit, he’s also the mayor of the city.
He said the first catches of the stone crab season were “really good”. But he's been pulling in fewer crabs.
“It’s definitely slow compared to the beginning," said Grimm. "When you’re dealing with something that is wild, they have a mind of they’re own. They don’t do what we hope they'd to do.”
Michelle Kerr, with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said the latest data from November showed a "significant drop" in stone crab catches.
And, she said, there could be a number of reasons for this.
“There was a long duration of red tide last year in south Florida and we're seeing that now again," said Kerr. "Hurricane Irma, prior to the season, may have moved many crabs farther offshore.”
Kerr said another reason could have been the lack of strong cold fronts in October and November, which she said gets the shellfish moving and increases trap catches.
Grimm, who's from a family line of stone crab catchers, said uncertainty comes with the territory.
“My dad used to say ‘by the time you think you got it figured out, they do something that you’ve never seem them do before’,” he said.
Updated data showing December’s stone crab catch numbers should be available by next week.
Stone crab catch data can be found here.