MANATEE -- Tuesday was the opening of stone crab season and crabbers, wholesalers, restaurants and fans of eating stone crabs eagerly awaited the first boats.
"What the guys are telling me is that it is looking good," Karen Bell, part owner of A.P. Bell Fish Co. with her uncle, Doug Bell, said Tuesday afternoon. "We are hoping to do 500 to 1,000 pounds Tuesday. They do think the weather is still too nice, but they are seeing some crabs. It will be better if the weather gets cooler and we get more storm fronts moving through."
A.P. Bell Fish Co. had roughly 8,000 traps out and the boats were due in just before dark, Bell said.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, a good season yields between 2 million and 3 million pounds of stone crabs statewide.
In 2012, 2.1 million pounds of stone crabs were harvested valued at roughly $23 million, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
In Manatee County, last season yielded 44,000 pounds of stone crab valued at $382,000, according to state officials.