Stone crab season is here again!
Island Seafood Market owner Casey Streeter knows stone crab is a delicacy in Southwest Florida. The season, he said, is limited, beginning Oct. 15 and ending April 15.
“When it comes along and we get our crabs in, everyone rushes to get them because they’re delicious,” said Streeter. “They’re sweeter than any other crab and our customers love them.” According to Streeter, the crabbers begin approximately 14 days prior to their first pull, when they can harvest the crabs. In the afternoon of Oct. 15, he said they get their first crabs. This year the crabbing has been strong, he noted, with the crabbers bringing in really large ones.
“There were some rule changes in the state,” Streeter said, “that have increased the size of the smallest stone crabs they’re allowed to catch, so what we consider a medium claw will be a little more difficult to have throughout the year. We’re getting a lot of large, jumbo and colossal claws, which are great.”
Stone crabs are a sustainable harvest, Streeter said, because they are able to grow their claws back within a year.
“Commercial fishermen are very respectable to the resource,” said Streeter. “If you don’t protect next year’s paycheck, you’re not going to have a paycheck next year. There’s a big misconception that commercial fishermen just take and take. The vast majority of people who fish for a living want the resource to be strong, so they protect it for the next generation. Fishermen are like-minded in that.”
Any business connected to the water, he said, is a part of a “Blue Economy,” and therefore dependent on its condition. The importance of maintaining clean water and a healthy ecosystem is not just a priority, it’s one of the keys to survival for people, animals and businesses.
“The backbone of our community is our water,” Streeter said. “We want to respect it and make sure it’s in good condition.”
In fact, Streeter said he and his wife, Katie Fischer, are deeply involved with water quality, having started a non-profit organization called Florida Commercial Waterman’s Conservation two years ago. Streeter said they monitor the waters by doing offshore water testing for NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and other science groups. Pine Island alone, he said, raised $50,000 for this research through private donation.
For more information on this organization visit floridawatermen.org
Island Seafood Market is at 4330 Pine Island Road in Matlacha. For more information, call 239-283-2525.