Stone crab season opener on Thursday, fishermen hoping for a prosperous season amid pandemic

Stone Crab Season

CORTEZ, Fla. (WWSB) -Stone crab season begins on Thursday and it’s slated to be an interesting season. This year the regulations are a little different. The Florida Fish and Wildlife conservation commission says the changes are meant to increase the stone crab population. Some of those changes include ending the season two weeks earlier and increasing the minimum claw size. You can find more information on all the changes here.

“We’re going to do it and hope for the best,” said fisherman, Captain Kent Nixon.

Nixon like many others are unsure of what this stone crab season will bring but is staying positive.

“I’m just hopping honestly to be able to move them. Again, it’s a luxury item. It’s a limited market. All those high-end restaurants that were normally the outlet, no longer there,” said part-owner of A.P. Bell Fish Company, Karen Bell.

A.P. Bell Fish Company part-owner Karen Bell says the pandemic has made a ripple effect on many industries. She hopes this year goes a lot better than two years ago when red tide impacted the Suncoast.

“So we really don’t know what’s going to happen just yet. I can’t imagine anybody really does. We’re going to have to see. And it’s really challenging,” said Nixon.

Nixon and other fishermen say they’re no pleased with some of the changes being made by the FWC.

“We’re going to have to add a ring. And if you only have 100 traps or something that’s not a problem. But guys like me that have a few thousand traps, it’s a lot of man hours. It’s a lot of time,” said Nixon.

He says it will likely be $4 or $5 a trap. To meet those rules he’ll likely have to spend a couple thousand dollars. This year he’s trying to make money saving changes.

“Because of the high price of the plastic. I’m going to build 1,000 wooden traps. Which I haven’t built in years, because of the overall costs. It will bring my costs down some for me. So I’m hoping it works out," said Nixon.

Nixon and Bell are staying positive. Bell says she hopes people support local crabbers who work hard to make it all happen.

Nixon also noted that almost all of the crabs trapped during the season will make it out alive and be put back into the ocean to regenerate their legs for next season. Crabbers like Nixon are crossing their fingers for a good and prosperous season.

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