Crabbers say this stone crab season was the worst in a decade

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Stone crabs. Photo via WINK News.
Stone crabs. (Credit: WINK News)

There have been big losses for fishers in Southwest Florida. As the peak time to catch stone crabs recently ended, crabbers are calling it the worst season in at least a decade.

One restaurant owner said she had to pass on stone crabs this season because she would have had to pass along the price to customers and it was too much. A crabber told WINK News every time he got on his boat to retrieve his traps, the more disappointment he felt.

Dennis Canfield has been out on his boat, the Shelley Kelley catching crabs for the last 22 years. He said this had been the worst season he has ever seen. By not catching enough crabs, Canfield is not getting enough cash to pay his bills.

“It’s super bad,” Canfield said. “I have a family to feed and it’s tough. It’s going to be a tough summer. I’m going to sell stuff off, pretty much sold everything off that we got. We’re going to start selling off some of our business stuff.”

Canfield said he has gone diving and seen crab carcasses at the bottom of the water. Not even a small fish in sight. The difference of crabs caught from this past season to the last several seasons is drastic.

Canfield is already looking ahead, hoping that there will be no hurricanes this season and no red tide. If next season continues the trend he is experiencing this year, he will have to sell his boat and his business.

Last season, Canfield and his crew were bringing in about 100 pounds on a bad day. This year, he said they would come back with around 5 pounds, which is not enough to cover the salary for the crew.

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