EVERGLADES CITY, Fla. - It's your money...
And crabbers say you should get ready to see prices of stone crabs and other seafood skyrocket. They tell WINK News, because of the oil spill, prices will spike next season if the U.S. Government steps in.
"It's one of those things no one wants to really think or talk about, but you have to," Captain McBeth Collins says.
He's a crabber who's on his way out from Everglades City to pick up traps in the Gulf that he hopes are full. Collins says so far, this season has been a tough one thanks to the cold winter and fish markets are paying $5 more per pound than last year.
"We're probably a third down from where I would like to be," Collins says of his catch so this season.
Now, local crabbers and other fishermen are concerned they may be facing something even worse than weather. They worry the oil spill could cancel out next season all together.
"If the government steps in says well we're concerned about the population of the crabs, crawfish or lobster or grouper they'll shut us down," the captain explains.
For these guys, who live season to season, it would be total devastation for the fishing community.
"That is huge, and that's a bridge we don't want to have to cross."
At City Seafood in Everglades City, what happens to the crabbers directly affects what happens in their coolers.
Owner Richard Wahrenberger says he bought well over $100,000 of stone crabs this season. That money may not go as far next season if crabbers can't work; meaning anything in the cooler will wind up costing more to be brought in.
Regardless Collins says he and others will still be getting ready for next season. "We're like farmers, we harvest and we prepare."
Federal officials have already shut down commercial fishing between the Mississippi River and the Florida Panhandle.