According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, stone crabs, or Menippe mercenaria1 (Figure 1) are legal to harvest from October 15 through May 15. They live in burrows from the shoreline to 200 feet water depth. They are harvested for their claws primarily with baited traps. Stone crabs regenerate lost claws by molting.
It takes approximately three molts (three years) for an adult to regenerate a claw to about 95 percent of the original claw’s size.
The long-term annual commercial Florida stone crab claw landings in the Gulf of Mexico states are shown below in Figure 2. Since 2011, the Florida West Coast supplied 96.3 percent of the entire Florida stone crab claw domestic landings averaging 3.7 million pounds and valued at $27.8 million annually. The Florida East Coast provided most of the remaining balance of the total domestic landings. In 2016, the Gulf-wide commercial landings of Florida stone crab claw reached 3.0 million pounds with dockside values of $29.9 million (Figure 3).
The economic contribution the stone crab fishing industry makes region-wide is crucial information in making private investment decisions, formulating government policy and developing research and extension programs for the industry. The IMPLAN software and the 2013 input-output data for the five Gulf of Mexico states were used to estimate the economic contribution of commercial fishing to the Gulf of Mexico regional economy in 2016. The economic analysis used commercial fishing (or sector 17) of the 2013 IMPLAN input-output data.
The annual commercial dockside values of Florida stone crab claw in the Gulf of Mexico states in 2016 reached $29.9 million, which was 9.3 percent more than the average yearly dockside values in the region since 2011. The total output contribution of commercial Florida stone crab claw fishing in 2016 amounted to $57.1 million (Figure 4). The Florida stone crab claw commercial fishing sustained 813 jobs and generated labor income amounting to $20.5 million in the Gulf of Mexico states regional economy.
The Florida stone crab claw commercial fishing industry generates annual tax revenues for the Gulf States and the U.S. federal government. About $3.5 million was estimated to have been paid by households and businesses in 2016 to the federal government as social insurance tax2, tax on production and imports, corporate profit tax and personal income tax. The Gulf States were expected to have collected taxes from households and businesses in 2016 amounting to $1.7 million as social insurance tax, tax on production and imports, corporate profits tax and personal tax.
2 Federal government social insurance programs include old age, survivors and disability insurance benefits; Medicare benefits; and unemployment benefits.