High quality seafood is always going to come at a larger price, but why are stone crab prices so high lately? Read more about the cost of stone crabs here.
Sought-after seafood delicacies always come with a significant price on them. When people think of expensive seafood, they often think of lobster and caviar. But, pound for pound, stone crab is one of the most costly kinds of seafood out there.
Anyone who's ever eaten them at a restaurant will know that stone crab prices can be incredibly high. But have you ever wondered why they're so expensive?
There are a few factors at play that contribute to their heightened price tag. We'll take a look at those in this article. But let's get some stone crab facts first.
What Are Stone Crabs?
The stone crab (sometimes known as the Florida Stone Crab) is a crustacean found in the Northwestern Atlantic ocean. It is native to the waters around Florida, Mexico, Cuba, and the Bahamas.
Stone crabs are a brownish-gray color, and their bodies can grow to between 5 and 6.5 inches wide. They are most recognized for having very large claws that have distinctive black tips.
You can typically find them in waters ranging from one to five feet deep. They live in specially dug holes on the sea bed.
The most interesting thing about stone crabs is their regenerative qualities. Stone crabs can shed their limbs with very little blood loss or injury to evade predators. After a few weeks, the shed limb will grow back.
How Are Stone Crabs Harvested?
Crabbers will place baited traps near where the stone crabs live. Commercial crabbers will place around 100 traps on a line that are individually buoyed. After leaving the traps in the water for a time, the crabbers will come back to retrieve the traps.
Stone crab harvests are different from other forms of crab harvest in that the crabs are not killed. Because of their regenerative abilities, fishermen do not harvest the entire crab. They simply take a claw and return the crab to the ocean ahead of the following year's harvest.
Stone Crab Prices
So, how much do stone crabs cost? Well, it depends where you get them from, but on average, you can expect to pay anywhere between $30 and $80 a pound for this high-quality seafood.
There are ways to find affordable stone crabs. Frozen stone crab claws will generally be more on the cheaper side. But, when it comes to fresh vs. frozen stone crabs, you can't beat the fantastic flavor of a fresh stone crab.
Always try to buy stone crab from retailers who catch them daily and can provide the freshest product.
Why Are Stone Crabs so Expensive?
Anything that commands a price of $70 per pound should have a pretty good reason for being so expensive, and stone crab does.
There are three main reasons that stone crab prices are so high. This is all to do with the location they can be found in, the season they can be harvested in, and the regulations surrounding the industry.
All three of these areas are highly regulated and monitored to prevent overfishing and to conserve stone crab numbers in the waters around Florida.
While you can find stone crabs in Mexico, Cuba, the Bahamas, and even the salt marshes of Georgia and North Carolina, an overwhelming majority of the stone crabs consumed in the US are harvested in Florida.
Having such a limited area to harvest from leads to a lot of competition between different crabbers. Demand for stone crabs also stays high during the peak season, which also helps to push the price up.
Certain types of crab can be harvested and enjoyed year-round. This is not the case for stone crabs.
The harvesting season for stone crabs in Florida is highly regulated. The only time you can legally harvest the crabs is from October 15 to May 1. Any crabs caught outside of this season have been harvested illegally.
Seafood retailers that make their living selling readily available and year-round products can get away with lowering their prices because they know they'll always have new stock coming in.
Stone crab retailers and wholesalers don't have this luxury. They've only got about five-and-a-half months to harvest, prepare, and sell their goods. They simply cannot afford to drop the prices down as they have a year's worth of income to make in under half the time.
Every time a crabber pulls in their lines and takes a look inside their traps, they may see a lot of stone crabs in there, but not all of them can be harvested.
Florida has strict laws in place around which crabs can be harvested and in which ways. All these restrictions are to help conserve population numbers and reduce the risk of overfishing.
Only claws that measure at least 2 7/8 inches in length can be harvested. If a crab has two claws that measure this length, the crabbers can take them both. If they only have one that meets the minimum, the crabber can only legally take that one claw.
Crabbers are also prohibited from harvesting the claws of egg-carrying females, so the vast majority of stone crab claws that end up on our plates come from the male of the species.
How Are Stone Crabs Eaten?
Stone crab claws are renowned for their sweet and succulent meat. They are often served whole at restaurants, and they're great to crack open and dunk into a pot of melted butter.
You can prepare stone crab claws by boiling them in water. The sooner you boil them after catching them, the better. Boil them in the water for around eight minutes, and then transfer them to a bowl of cold or ice water to stop them from overcooking.
Buy Stone Crab Today
So there's the lowdown on stone crab prices. They're expensive for a good reason, they're difficult to come by, only available for half the year, and the industry is highly regulated.
If this article has left you craving some fresh stone crab, then you're in luck. Here at Captain Stone Crab, we can deliver the freshest stone crab claws right to your door.
Take a look at our online shop and see the great options we offer. Remember that in addition to your fresh stone crab claws, at Captain Stone Crab you can enjoy our delicious caviar as well as our king crab legs in their colossal king crab legs presentation. Place an order today to craft the perfect stone crab dinner for you and your family.