Draw The Butter, Stone Crab Season Is Officially Open

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Time to draw the butter and dip into one of South Florida’s favorite delicacies.  Stone crab season has officially opened for commercial recreational fishermen who can hunt for the tasty crustaceans in state and federal waters.

But there are a strict set of rules that must be followed:

• When catching catch a crab the claws can be removed, but throw back the crab
• Stone crab claws must be at least 2¾ inches in length to be harvested legally
• Crabs must be captured in baited traps, declawed and released
• Egg bearing females cannot be declawed
• No hooks or spears are allowed

Click Here for a complete list of rules and regulations from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The season runs through May 15.

The nice thing about eating stone crab claws, other than they are delicious, is that stone crab claws are the only renewable resource from the water. Crabbers take only one claw from each crab, which is then regenerated over time.

Florida Keys fisherman definitely benefit from the 7-month stone crab season.  They harvest, on average, about 2.6 million pounds of claws, or about 40-percent of all stone crab claws taken statewide, according to the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association.

Commercial fishermen in the Keys anticipate high demand and likely higher prices than the beginning of last season.

Gary Graves is vice president of Keys Fisheries, one of the state’s largest processors of the tasty claws. He projected season-opening, per-pound state retail prices should exceed $13 for medium, $20 for large and $25 for jumbo.

Graves hopes this season’s statewide harvest will yield more than the 2.6 million pounds per season averaged during the past 10 years.

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