Commercial fishermen are optimistic that this year there will be a healthier consumer appetite for stone crabs claws.
Stone crab season begins Thursday and ends May 15.
Gary Graves, vice president of Keys Fisheries, says that last season low demand caused by the recession had many commercial fishermen in the Florida Keys keeping their traps on land. Keys Fisheries is one of the largest processors of claws in the state. This year, Graves' fishermen have all their traps deployed.
The Keys is the top region in the state for the harvest of the claws. Legal-size claws are taken and the body is returned to the water to generate new claws.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission says that stone crabs are the state's only renewable seafood resource.