The end of stone-crab season this week may be barely noticed by the Florida Keys commercial fleet.
With costs of making a trip to pull traps often higher than the value of claws harvested, many Monroe County stone-crabbers gave up on the poor season months ago.
The seven-month season, which ended Wednesday, was only weeks old when Gary Graves of Marathon's Keys Fisheries described a harvest "as bad as I can remember during my 45 years in the business.... It's just bleak."
It never improved, Rick Hill of Key Largo Fisheries said Tuesday. Fishermen count on cold weather to lure stone crabs into traps, Hill said.
"But we never had a winter," he said. "It went from fall to summer. The first cold front didn't hit until March."
For unknown reasons, it has been a banner season for octopus, a predator of stone crabs in the Keys and all along the state's Gulf of Mexico coast.
"When the octopus season went ballistic, the crabs either got attacked or dug themselves in," Hill said.
Last season, Monroe County produced about 1.1 million pounds of legal-size claws, accounting for a large portion of Florida's total 2.67 million-pound harvest worth an estimated $23.6 million to the commercial fleet. Harvest numbers were largely similar in 2011. Final numbers for the season ending today will not be known for several weeks.
Read the full story at the Miami Herald>>
National Fisherman Live: 12/16/14
In this episode, Bruce Buls, WorkBoat's technical editor, interviews Long Island lobsterman John Aldridge, who survived for 12 hours after falling overboard in the dead of night. Aldridge was the keynote speaker at the 2014 Pacific Marine Expo, which took place Nov. 19-21 in Seattle.
NOAA, in consultation with the Department of the Interior, has appointed 10 new members to the Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee. The 20-member committee is composed of individuals with diverse backgrounds and experience who advise the departments of commerce and the interior on ways to strengthen and connect the nation's MPA programs. The new members join the 10 continuing members appointed in 2012.