KEY WEST, Fla. -

Commercial fishermen are reporting record prices for stone crab claws this season -- but only because the crabs were scarce in Florida waters.

Stone crab season closes at midnight Thursday.

Florida Keys-based commercial fisherman Gary Nichols says fish houses paid $25 to $30 a pound for jumbo-sized claws, $18 to $21 a pound for large claws and $8 to $11 a pound for medium claws.

But Nichols also says his harvests averaged a hundred pounds lighter than in previous years.

A fisheries biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says this year's catch of stone crab claws was very low at 1.7 million pounds. Tom Matthews says 2.7 million pounds of claws were harvested last year.

Stone crab season reopens Oct. 15.