Florida Commercial Stone Crabbers Say Proposed Industry Regulations Could Put Them Out of Business

Florida’s $30 million stone crab industry is snapping mad over a state government change that reduces by five weeks the seven-month harvest season for what is widely considered a classic but expensive delicacy in the Sunshine State.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said the shortened season and other new limits are necessary to sustain Florida stone crabs – whose large, meaty claws are removed and served boiled with melted butter or mustard sauce. The agency said the shorter season was expected to reduce the amount of claws harvested each year by 10 percent.

The agency’s scientists said many crabs don’t survive their claws being removed, and crabs have been overharvested since the late ‘90s. Its data – challenged as inaccurate by the industry – showed the fewest pounds of stone crab claws harvested since 1986 during the season that ended last year.

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