Protect Florida's Stone Crab Industry
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Florida lawmakers must act to a) protect Florida stone crabs from depletion and b) protect commercial fishermen’s livelihoods. In 2015, the Florida stone crab generated $36 million for Florida’s economy. At an average of $24 a pound, the stone crab is one of the most valued fisheries in the state. Florida fishermen have long relied on spiny lobster as a main source of revenue. However, in 2017, due to Hurricane Irma’s destruction of lobster boats and 90% of lobster traps, fisherman switched their target from lobsters to stone crabs for their claws.
Currently, there is no limit for commercial fishermen regarding the number of claws they take, although there are guidelines regarding claw size. Because of the way stone crab claws are harvested, it is nearly impossible to count the population of stone crabs. Many crabs do not survive without their claws. Also, fishermen are allowed to take the crabs away from their habitat to declaw them. With the increased focus in harvesting stone crab claws, the Florida legislature, with guidance from the fishing industry, should enact legislation to ensure the protection of the stone crab population. This will prevent overfishing of stone crabs to ensure their survival and to protect this aspect of Florida’s economy.
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