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Crabbers say red tide is not hurting stone crab harvest

Posted at 10:59 PM, Oct 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-16 06:40:18-04

ST. JAMES CITY, Fla. -- Monday was the official start of stone crab season, and the red tide and algae bloom problems are not stopping some locals from getting their first taste.

The crew at Island Crab Company in St. James City sorted and delivered their first catch Monday. They were optimistic.

"We're just hoping for a good year," said Jeff Haugland, co-owner of Island Crab Company.

He spoke to the concerns some people might have that red tide could hurt the crabs. "They’re alive, living, you know, walking in the ocean. The ocean’s cleared up now. It’s very edible," Haugland said.

Stone crab lovers said the red tide won't stop them either.

"I love crab!" said Tome Enneking, who's visiting the area and stopped by Pinchers Crab Shack in Cape Coral.

"I’m not worried. Not concerned at all about that," he said when asked about water issues affecting stone crab season.

Jeanene Whittaker said she's not worried about red tide tainting the crab either.  "I trust the fisherman and the vendors around here that they know what they’re doing and they’re gonna do it in a safe way," said Whittaker.

The Island Crab owner says though red tide hasn't affected their catch, something else did. He says Hurricane Michael kept them from putting more traps in the Gulf ahead of the season. But with the storm out of the way, crabbers are still hopeful for a healthy harvest. 

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says crab meat and edible parts of other shellfish are not affected by red tide and can be eaten.