Stone crab season starts October 15

Stone crab season starts Monday, October 15, and commercial fishermen are hopeful for a bountiful catch this season.

That's because a second consecutive uneventful Atlantic hurricane season could mean the tasty crustacean claws will be plentiful, and maybe a little cheaper, too.

Florida's 2-point 4 million pound harvest in 2006 increased from 2.2 million pounds the year before. The 2005 numbers are the lowest since 1986, when the state began requiring reports from all commercial landings.

Florida's commercial fishermen were so devastated from busy hurricane seasons in 2004 and 2005, state officials waived their trap certificate fees last year. Fees have been reinstated this year.

The stone crab season runs through May 15. The Keys usually accounts for some 40% of the state's annual stone crab claw harvest.

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