Stone Crab Fisheries

Next to Spiny Lobster, Stone Crab is the most important commercial species in the Florida Keys. About half of the 3 million pounds caught statewide are produced in the Keys, and primarily harvested from Florida Bay. Unlike lobster, which are caught in all temperate waters of the world, Stone Crab is a localized specialty food, with commercial quantities only produced in the warmer Gulf of Mexico waters.

The commercial Stone Crab fishery is unique, in that only the claws are taken, and the body is returned alive to the water. Not only do the crabs continue to reproduce, but they can regenerate a marketable size claw in as little as 6 months.

Stone crabs are caught with either wooden or plastic traps, that are similar to lobster traps, but smaller, and usually baited with pig’s feet. The Stone Crab claw can exert great pressure, Fishermen must take care.

Approximately half of all the crab claws produced in the Florida Keys each year, are used by the Joe’s Stone Crab Restaurant chain.

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