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Stone crab season gets underway tomorrow

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 6:28 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - It is that time of year again -- fishermen are prepare to head out to check the first stone crab traps of the season Friday. The season officially kicks off Oct. 15 and runs through May 1. The iconic crab is a local favorite on the menu but is often hard to come by.

Stone crab fishermen have been preparing for the season as they set traps and get gear and bait together. The regulations allow for the fishermen to set their traps 10 days prior to the official start to the season.

Guidelines set by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission require that the traps be set to specified standards.

Image by the Florida Fish and Wildlife on requirements for stone crab traps including new...
Image by the Florida Fish and Wildlife on requirements for stone crab traps including new requirements by 2023/2024(WWSB)

As the crab traps are pulled, crabs that have claws of at least 2 7/8-inch in diameter are able to be harvested. Although both claws can be harvested, many fishermen opt for the harvest of only one as it gives the crab a better way to defend itself once it is released back to the water. This ultimately allows the crab to fight for food which provides the energy to regrow its claw.

As crab fishermen head out this season there is concern that red tide could impact this year’s harvest. Studies done by Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium have shown red tide does have a deadly effect on stone crab larvae.

For crab fishermen like Nathan Meschell, the concern is real. “With red tide lingering around, and it seems to be spotty, I don’t have high hopes but you know, buy you do want to be hopeful because that’s your livelihood and you know that’s how you make money to survive and support the family. It’s still exciting, we will wait to see what’s gonna happen tomorrow,” Meschell explained.

“People, in general, just need to be mindful of our impacts on the water, you know, talking about the red tide, or pollution,” Meschell said.

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