Hurricane Ian, inflation may affect prices for stone crabs

A worker sorts stone crab claws at Outclaws Seafood in Lake Park on Oct. 19, 2022.jpg
Posted at 4:37 PM, Oct 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-19 22:15:14-04

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Stone crab season has officially kicked off.

Early signs show supply and prices may look a little different this year, all due to the impacts of Hurricane Ian on the local fishing industry and ongoing inflation.

The crustacean, which is only sold seven months of the year, is in high demand this year, specifically after Hurricane Ian.

"I have suppliers on the west coast, in those areas that completely wiped them out. They’ll be lucky to fish this year," said Jason Brown, the owner of Outclaws Seafood in Lake Park.

Luckily for Brown, his suppliers come from all over the state, so he has plenty of crabs right now.

"In the first four days of production, we’ve probably sold 8,000 to 10,000 pounds," Brown said.

But because of the combination of Hurricane Ian’s impact on the west coast of Florida and rising inflation, prices for the delicacy may soon go up

"The cost of bait is up, the cost of rope, the cost of traps, the cost of everything us up. It has brought the cost of stone crabs up this year," Brown said.

At Riggins Crab House, customers look forward to Oct. 15, the first day of season every year

"We pretty much sold out of everything we have," said Scott Herman, the general manager of Riggins Crab House.

Herman said they were lucky they were able to get their hands on some crabs, but not everyone has had the same luck

"Some restaurants that typically carry them, I've called to see how much they are selling them for to compare our prices. And a lot of people don’t have them," Herman said.

And as season goes on, trappers may see less crabs, affecting the price later on

"The people that come into the restaurant, they just had the same meal three days ago for $68. Now you have to tell them it's $85. So it causes a lot of problems," Herman said.

It’s just a waiting game.

"People who can afford it, they are going to want it and they are going to eat it," Brown said.