While most of the country longs for warm, comforting soups as November approaches, South Florida residents tend to crave something a little more... crustacean. We’re talking about Florida stone crab season, and it’s just begun.
From October 15 until May 1, the eagerly anticipated annual harvest of stone crab claws causes a frenzy in South Florida. Stone crabs can be legally harvested between these dates, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
Why is there a season for them, and what makes them expensive?
Everything about stone crabs is unique — and there are dozens of rules and regulations regarding harvesting them.
Unlike most other crustaceans, it’s illegal to harvest the body of a stone crab, so fishermen can only collect the claws and must return the rest of the crab to the ocean. This makes catching stone crabs extremely labor-intensive.
Plus, fishermen can only fish for stone crabs on the southeastern coast of the U.S., the Bahamas, Cuba and Mexico, states the FWC. However, more are fished in Florida than anywhere else. “...the Florida Stone Crab Fishery makes up 99% of all stone crab landings in the United States,” states the official website.
Therefore, it is for these reasons that Florida stone crabs are so expensive (and sometimes hard to get).
However, don’t fret — there are plenty of businesses and restaurants offering stone crabs throughout the season so that the only manual labor you’ll need to do is cracking a claw open (or a dozen).
Where can I buy stone crabs?
Plenty of local businesses are selling stone crabs in 2021. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, more businesses are offering delivery options, as well.
- Holy Crab Delivery: Founded in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, Holy Crab Delivery ships fresh stone crabs nationwide, and also ships stone crabs locally online for fast delivery or pickup. Their stone crabs may also be purchased at MKT Kitchen in Coral Gables. Click here to order.
- Joe’s Stone Crab: Since opening in 1913, Joe’s Stone Crab has become a Miami institution. For more than 100 years, no visit to Miami during stone crab season is complete without stopping in at Joe’s Stone Crab. They also ship nationwide and can be ordered for pickup. Click here for more.
- Stiltsville Fish Bar: Ask for their fresh stone crabs next time you dine at Stiltsville Fish Bar in Miami Beach. Click here for more.
- Garcia’s Seafood Grill & Fish Market: For over 20 years, Miami residents have been eating stone crabs at Garcia’s. Click here for more.
- Captain’s Tavern: Since 1971, Captain’s Tavern has become a local institution and a Pinecrest staple when dining in the neighborhood. They serve fantastic seafood year-round and stone crabs during its season. Click here for more.
- Acapella Seafood: Acapella Seafood ships stone crabs locally and nationwide. Click here for more.
- George Stone Crab: George Stone Crab has been delivering stone crabs since 2008. Click here to order.