Economic Analysis of Stone Crab Season

In the article, “Fishermen face rough seas, economy during stone crab season”, Miami Herald’s Elaine Walker looks at the expectations of various fishermen and restaurant operators about the stone crab season which begun last Friday , and is set to run up to mid March next year.

She discusses the issues that are likely to influence the outcome of the stone crab season. She documents that the weather hit preparations at the start of the season.

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She says, “Rough seas and the threat of tropical storm Paula created delays last week in getting traps into the water” (Walker 2010). She reports that the economic down turn affected the crab market negatively in the last season, with fewer people opting for the delicacy, since many normally consider it “a luxury item” (Walker, 2010).

She briefly discusses the process of getting the crabs from the water all the way to the table. After the fishing boats dock, the claws go through boiling, chilling, and packing before transportation to distribution centers for delivery.

A report by Fred Tasker also of the Miami Herald looks at the start of the stone crab season from the restaurants’ point of view. He reports the optimism with which the General Manager of Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami is looking at the season. He contrasts this optimism with the more reserved view of the season by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. The Commission likes the fact that there have been no hurricanes yet this season, but feels it is too early to celebrate.

Tasker also reports about the process of hauling the crabs in. He says that the anglers catch the crabs, then twist “off a single claw from each crab” (Tasker 2010), then they toss the rest of the crab back to the water. It grows a new claw in a year or two. He mentions that there are fears among restaurant owners that customers may be reluctant to eat crab this season because of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. He then goes on to give the requisites for recreational angling.

Eric Staats of Naples provides us with a perspective of the stone crab season that focuses on statistics relating to prices and quantities, and the factors affecting them. He reports that, “prices will fluctuate depending on supply and demand” (Staats, 2010). In his report, he discusses the best conditions for catching stone crab.

This includes, “muddy water churned up by stormy weather” (Staats, 2010). This ensures that, “crabs stay on the move” (Staats, 2010). He also includes warm weather since in cold temperatures, “crabs bury themselves and hunker down” (Staats, 2010).

The key economic issue these writers raise is that the six-month stone crab season supports an entire economic system with anglers, restaurants, researchers, and regulatory agencies all having a role to play. They all show how natural conditions like the weather interact with regulatory conditions to provide the environment for the economic activities relating to stone crab fishing.

They also go to show that larger economic issues, such as the global economic down turn affect regional economic activities since it erodes the buying power of individuals. Each of them, however, uses a different viewpoint to express these issues.

In my view, there is an interrelation between economic systems. A factor in one end affects the outcome in another. To the extent that angling depends on natural factors, there may be a better season compared to last year. However, to the extent that it depends on the economic environment, things may be bleak.

The US national economy failed to picked up as quickly as anticipated, and closer to Florida, the economic effects of the BP oil spill are yet to fully surface, both of which will determine just how well the commercial side of the crab season goes. If these factors slow down the industry, eventual winners will be the crabs because they will have both claws until next season.

Works Cited

Staats, Eric. “Stone Crab Season Starts Slow, Prices Expected to Be Higher”. Naples Daily News., 15 Oct. 2010. Web. 18 Oct. 2010.

Tasker, Fred. “Stone Crab Season Has Arrived”. Miami Herald. Miami Herald Media Co., 15 Oct. 2010. Web. 18 Oct. 2010.

Walker, Elaine. “Fishermen Face Rough Seas, Economy During Stone Crab Season”. Miami Herald. Miami Herald Media Co., 16 Oct. 2010. Web. 18 Oct 2010.


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