Claws for optimism: Florida stone crab season looks promising
The annual haul opens Tuesday following last year's up-and-down season. Crabbing insiders have their fingers crossed.
A persistent red tide coupled with the effects of Hurricane Michael resulted in another hit-or-miss season for Florida crabbers last year. But scientists and industry experts are hopeful that this season — which kicks off Tuesday and runs through May 15 — could prove more fruitful.
Bill Kelley, the director of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishing Association, is remaining “cautiously optimistic” despite last year’s dismal crab haul stateside, which was the lowest ever recorded in Florida’s history.
“It’s looking promising,” Kelley said. “We’re seeing a couple of crabs turn up in some of the lobster traps, which can be a good sign.”
Another harbinger for good news? The initial results from a statewide crab monitoring program show an increase in crab populations in areas where last year there were little or none.
“It’s not a banner year, by any means, but there are a good amount of crabs around,” said Ryan Gandy, a research scientist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Read the full story at the Tampa Bay Times.