When the price of is out of the sight ,the product is out of mind.At least that´s the story for Florida stone crab claws this past season.”It boils down to this :It was a good season for the number of crabs .There were a lot of crabs ,and a lot of big crabs ,” said Ryan Gandy ,crustacean researcher with the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St.Petersburg ,Fla.”We had a big bounce back where we´ve been for the past four or five years .But the demans wasn´t there.”
Going into the season ,which spans May 15 to October 15 ,there were planty of claws ,but fish houses were flooded and couldn´t move the product .That´s likely because the price two seasons before had skyrocketed to “the highest value in the fishery value in the fishery ever “,Gandy said.
And that´s the story in reverse .The price went up because the supply was down .Landings went from a steady annual landing at 2.5 million to 2.7 million pounds per year , but tanked in the 2013-2014 season ,to 1.9 million .At total value of $27.83 million ,”it become a high-end product “,Gandy said .”We were in the $25 range for a while for mediums.”
On paper ,through 2015-2016 was a good season that may bode well for next year .Updated catch and value as of Aug .1 show 2.99 million pounds landed in claw weight for a value of $32.71 million .
The bounce back in stock wasn´t a surprise ,really ,Gandy said .”We saw a recruitment pulse a few years ago “in the eight locations the Fish and Wildlife samples.”It takes 18 months to two years for juveniles to hit the market.You never know if they´re going to get eaten or make it to the fishery ,but September numbers will tell us something about the opening of the new season .”
Nine Florida counties harvest stone crab ,which is a pristinely sustainable seafood -if harvesting is done properly .