Stone crab season opens Sunday — but will the hurricane affect the haul? – Miami Herald
Draw your butter and get your mustard sauce ready: Stone crab season starts Sunday.
But the big question this year is how abundant — and how expensive — the claws will be a month after a hurricane wrecked a huge swath of the fishing areas in the Florida Keys.
“I don’t know what the catch is going to be — a good season or not,” Joe’s owner Stephen Sawitz said.
Fresh Florida spiny lobster was hard to find in the last month, after the trapping industry bore Hurricane Irma’s brunt. The storm scattered and destroyed tens of thousands of lobster traps as the Keys’ fishing industry — the second-largest economic driver in Monroe County at more than $150 million — was paralyzed for three weeks.
Stone crab traps, however, were on dry land and spared the bulk of the damage. Most went in the water Oct. 5, though fishermen won’t know until Sunday, when they are first legally allowed to pull them out, how good the stone crab catch will be.
“What did Hurricane Irma do to the stone crab haul? We’re going to find out,” said Bill Kelly, executive director of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association.
South Beach’s Lobster Bar Sea Grille says it expects to have fresh stone crab claws by Wednesday. Its parent company, Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, has its own seafood company but felt the effects of the storm.
“They did have a little set back due to the hurricanes, but not by much since we source and fish our own crab,” David Abes, the chief operating officer, told the Miami Herald in an email. “We stand by our 48-hour sea-to-table rule and look forward to kicking off our first Miami stone