Business owner says SWFL stone crab season strong in 2019

Although red tide has not been the crisis it was during summer in 2018, we still wanted to know how it has affected a vital fishing industry in Southwest Florida, particularly stone crab fishing.

Crabbers returned to docks with traps filled with stone crab this season, and they were welcomed because people missed eating them last year.

Crabbers and owners throughout Collier County told us the stone crab population is thriving, and business is booming.

Businesses have been able to feed off the resurgence and excitement people have now that stone crab is back on the menu.

“It’s a turnaround from last year, really,” said Charles Orlo, the owner of seafood market and café.

Orlo said people are lining up to get their hands on stone crab claws at his business.

“What better place to test the stone crab than right here in Everglades City?” Rick Murphy said. “These guys have been doing it for thousands of years, it seems like.”

Murphy and his wife traveled to Everglades City from Miami to support local businesses. He said it’s a tradition. He has visited the area for the last 25 years for stone crab claws.

“The economy for them has bounced back really well,” Murphy said.

Offshore, despite the red tide a little farther north, crabbers have not experienced issues this season. But there are still concerns, since locals know how quickly things can change.

“You gotta believe in mother nature, you got a believe it,” Orlo said. “You can’t be a pessimist to stay in this business because you’re going to have good and bad.”

Still, Orlo said the remainder of stone crab season looks promising, and he had record sales this weekend.

Reporter:Jerrica Valtierra
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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