Florida Stone Crab Prices
If you love fresh tantalizing seafood delicacies, then you may have noticed the high Florida stone crab prices this year. The stone crab claw price is at a record high in the 2023-2024 seasons due to inflation and a shortage of crabs. Many wholesalers, restaurants, and local seafood markets claim that the supply of crabs is limited as a result of the lean traps along the Gulf of Florida as well as the powerful weekend winds that carry the crabs away.
Moreover, inflation has also affected the dollar by increasing from $10 to $20 per pound in 2021 because of the supply shortage caused by the Covid 19 Pandemic. On top of that, customer demand for stone crab claws in 2023 remains unaffected, thereby promoting the increase in Florida stone crab prices.
Another reason why the stone crab claw price is high is that the stone crab harvesting season is short, and normally runs from 15th October to 1st May. When the crabs are caught, only one of their claws is removed before they are tossed back into the water. Also, in order for a claw to be removed, it must be at least 2 ¾ inches long or more. If a stone crab’s claw is too short, it is not removed, and the crab is tossed back into the water.
Additionally, pregnant female crabs are not harvested. The unique harvesting technique of stone crabs ensures that the crustaceans do not become extinct from too much harvesting, thereby causing the stone crab claw price to remain high compared to the prices of other forms of seafood.
How Much Are Stone Crab Claws?
The average stone crab claw price in the 2023 – 2024 season is $35 to $75 per pound, with each pound consisting of 3 claws. Claws come in the following four sizes: medium ($35 per pound), large ($44.99 per pound), jumbo ($69.99 per pound), and colossal ($74.99).
An interesting fact about crab claw harvesting is that the crab can re-grow its claw provided the fishermen/harvesters leave the joint which attaches the claw to the body intact. This is why the stone crab is considered one of the most sustainable delicacies in Florida. A crab takes about 12 months to re-grow its claw back to full size.
Moreover, each time a crab re-grows its claw, the claw grows back larger than its previous size, which is why the Florida stone crab prizes of different crab claws vary according to size. As a survival mechanism, stone crabs are able to regenerate their limbs multiple times so that they can sacrifice their body parts to escape their enemies.
Once the stone crab claws are harvested, the claws are graded in terms of their size e.g., medium, large, jumbo, and colossal. After grading, the claws are taken to the docks where they are boiled inside a large vat and then shipped to the best fishmongers and finest restaurants around the world.
Although the body of the stone crab is very small and rarely eaten, its claw contains flaky sweet dense flesh that is flavorful and delicious. In order to prevent overfishing and help control the stone crab claw price, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in Florida regulates the amount of stone crab claw that is harvested. In 2020, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in Florida shortened the harvesting season by only two weeks in order to curb overfishing.
The stone crab claw price for medium claws has increased by 30% compared to the start of the 2021 stone crab season. In 2021, the Florida stone crab prices were $34.95 per pound medium, $44.95 per pound large, and $59.95 per pound jumbos.
Florida stone crab prices affect the prices of stone crab claws across the United States because 98% of stone crabs come from Florida.
Florida Stone Crab
Did you know that stone crabs harvested in Florida contribute about $30 million to the economy every year? Moreover, Florida stone crab prices affect the prices of stone crab claws across the United States because 98% of stone crabs come from Florida. This makes Florida stone crabs one of the most expensive sea foods in the United States.
Although stone crabs are known for their ability to regenerate their claws, scientists discovered that crabs do not regenerate their claws as quickly as we thought. In fact, each time a stone crab’s claw is removed, its survival rate decreases. If the crab claws are removed, it is 60% more likely to die before it regenerates its claws. If you harvest one of its claws, the survival rate of the crab reduces by 40%.
Also, 13% of all harvested crabs die from mishandling by fishermen. Moreover, the average lifespan of a stone crab is about 6 to 8 years and regenerating its claw back to full size takes two years. This clearly indicates that the Florida stone crab is not very sustainable; hence the high Florida stone crab prices.
Before harvesting, commercial fisheries lay the crab traps about 14 days before collecting the crabs. This gives the traps enough time to collect large numbers of stone crabs.
Despite the strict harvesting regulations, scientists have found that crabs are growing scarcer as time goes by. According to scientists, one of the major reasons behind the crab crisis is a voracious invasive predator known as the blue catfish. A study carried out by the Virginia Institute of Marine Science in 2021 indicated the catfish consumes about 2.3 million crabs each year. The catfish is just one of the many predators that hunt crabs, making them scarce while their demand in the market continues to increase, leading to a high stone crab claw price.
dditionally, environmental changes are causing a decline in the crab population. Since the waters are becoming warmer, the female stone crabs prefer to spawn in the early periods of the year. Initially, the harvest season would end before the spawning season began. However, due to changes in climate, both the harvesting and spawning seasons overlap. This causes egg-bearing female stone crabs to be caught in traps during the harvest season.
As a result, the survival rate of the trapped egg-bearing female stone crabs decreases, which leads to a decline in the crab population, decreasing the supply of the claw, which increases the stone crab claw price.
Due to the above reasons, the Fish and Wildlife Commission in Florida proposed a few regulations back in 2020 in an attempt to help rebuild the stone crab claw stock. The proposed regulations were as follows:
- The crab harvesting season should end two weeks earlier than usual. This means that instead of ending on 15th May, the harvesting season should end by 1st May in order to give female stone crabs ample time to spawn without endangering them.
- Commercial vessels have a limit on the number of stone crabs they can hold. When fewer crabs are held on board by commercial vessels before harvesting, their survival rate increases because it will help to avoid overcrowding and to starve the crabs before they are harvested.
- Crab traps to be fitted with escape rings so that undersized crabs can slip away. Since crab traps catch all types of stone crabs including pregnant female crabs and undersized crabs, this regulation will help to ensure that undersized and vulnerable crabs are not stuck with other crabs in the crab traps and left to starve for about 14 days before they are harvested and graded.
- The minimum size of the claw harvested to be 2 7/8 inches instead of 2 ¾ inches. This will help give the stone crabs more time to regenerate their claws to make them a more sustainable seafood resource.
Either way, make sure you enjoy a plate of the sweet, elegant stone crab claw while it is still in season from trusted and environmentally friendly brands that promote sustainable practices such as Stone Crab Wholesale and Captain Stone Crab.
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