A Crabbing Family Wants You to Know
This is a special article provided to Fishing For Freedom by a "crabbing family" that is very thankful that we stopped the "Blue Crab Bill." The following is information that the FWC does not want the Legislature to know or the public to understand.
Florida Stone Crab
The following is an accurate accounting of the conditions that Florida's Citizens and youth are faced with in the crabbing industry with the FWC at it's helm.
To Enter the Stone Crab Fishery the following cost would occur.
The author's son working on his father's blue crab boat.
Lets do a simple equation that my son currently a Junior in High School who wants to be a stone crabber is faced with. This equation will be conservative and based upon requirements of current Stone Crab Tag program. According to some members on the Stone Crab Advisory Panel it would take at least 3,000 traps for a person to make a living full time Stone Crab Fishing.
Being a sixth generation fisherman and having experience on the water and knowing my son is a go getter I will say that he could fish 3,000 traps with approximately a 33 to 35 boat. Knowing everyone has to start some where we will base our cost on used equipment (Not always available).
33 to 35 Used boat - $65,000.00.
3,000 used traps - $12.50 each- $37,500.00
3,900 tags (after reduction you get 3022.5) - $5.00 each- $19,500.00
3,022.5 tags transfer fee - $3.00 - $9,067.50
Salt Water Product License - $225.00
This equation of coarse does not figure in federal tax on purchased items.
Plus the real kicker is the 22.5% reduction of the tags after purchase from crabber. If you purchase 3000 tags, you will only be allowed to keep 2325. So, in order to obtain 3022.5 tags you have to purchase 3,900 an extra $4,500.00.
Based upon our conservative equation, the total extra cost due to the tag program is $28,567.50 in tag fees alone.
The author has asked the FWC Commissioners about what their plans were to enable future generations to be able to enter the crabbing industry. They would not comment. It appears that the FWC intends on destroying the industry for future generations like the author's youngest son. (Pictured driving the boat.)
May I remind you that the cost of the 3,022.5 tags paid to FWC each and every year after is $.50 each tag totaling $1,511.25. The tags that are unpaid for 3 years are forfeited to the FWC at the beginning of the 4th year.
All these extra costs are imposed on an industry that will regulate its self on participants. Just based upon cost of equipment, maintenance and other factors the biggest being Mother Nature. There is no need for the tag program other than to keep people out of the business and slowly choke out the current participants. If not for the tag program a young man or woman could start small and build their business, but with the added cost and annual FWC fees, they dont stand a chance. Well done FWC. All of which is supposedly done to preserve the resource for future generations, who dont stand a chance to participate with the current program.
A. To purchase a USED 30 to 45 foot boat would cost in the range of $35,000.00 to $200,000.00.
B. Trap purchase new versus used. Used traps range from $10.00 to $15.00 per trap if you luck out. Complete, ready to fish new traps can cost between $25.00 to $30.00.
C. Crabbers demand $5.00 to $8.00 a piece for trap tags.
D. State transfer fees are $2.00 per tag if they have never been transferred and if transferred from non family member a $1.00 per tag surcharge or 25% of total purchase price which ever is greater (minimum of $3.00 per tag). If a crew member of current tag holder pays a fee of $1.00 per tag and if transferred from non family member a $1.00 per tag surcharge or 25% of total purchase price which ever is greater (minimum of $2.00 per tag).
E. Salt Water Products license for the boat costs $100.00. A Stone Crab endorsement costs $125.00. Total license fees = $225.00.
These above listed cost are what a person will have to pay just to get started - not including cost of labor, fuel, dock rent and vehicle, trap trailer, bait ETC.
The author's youngest son shows off a large male blue crab, soon to be enjoyed by an appreciative consumer. (The consumers are citizens routinely disregarded by the FWC in the exercising of their "constitutional authority.")
So I ask you based on the above listed information is there a need for a tag program for the Blue Crab Industry. The answer to the question will be provided below.
The current cost incurred by the Blue Crabber (Hard shell) as of now.
20-25 boat 10,000.00 to $15,000.00 depending on new or used with or without motor.
Motor - New -$8,000.00 to $12,000.00 - Used $3,000.00 to $6,000.00.
Traps - New ready to fish $22.00 each Used $10.00 each
Bait - $32.00 per 100 pounds
Gas - $3.00 per gallon
A days crabbing cost to pull approximately 200 traps per day is as follows:
Gas 25 gallons $3.00 per gallon and oil (2cycle) $3.00 per quart $81.00 (truck & boat)
Bait 200 lbs $.32 per pound $64.00
Miscellaneous items ( Ice, drinks etc.) $10.00
Total Expenses $155.00 per day x 5 days = $775.00 per work week.
Current market price for crabs West coast:
(Subject to change according to time of year and demand of product. The amount of imported crab meat has drastic effects on local crab markets)
Female (pickers) $.50 = $50.00 per 100 lbs
Males (#1s) $1.25 = $125.00 per 100 lbs
Average current catch per day (summer time) is 200 to 250 lbs per 200 traps (Keep in mind some days good some bad)
150 lbs males = $187.50
100 lbs females = $50.00
Total $237.50 less $155.00 expenses = $82.50 wages per day x 5 days = $412.50. (If you catch more males than females?)
These figures do not take out federal with holdings or other business related expenses. Some Crabbers are able to save some money by building there own traps and doing there own maintenance and repairs to their boats.
The Soft Shell Blue Crab fishing and operation is a separate and equally expensive Business. The cost of traps varies because it is a specialty trap and the crabs that are produced are handled completely different from hard shell crabs. A lot of extra work is put into the shedding process and maintain a successful operation for the end product is a 24 hour a day 7 days a week process. The end product can bring better prices than hard shell crabs due to the easy preparation of the crab for consumption.
The Blue Crab Tag Program would have added extra expenses to the crabbers who were selected to keep there licenses. Here is the break down.
Tags (Hard Shell) - 1,000 maximum per license issued $.50 each = $500.00
Salt Water Products boat license with Blue Crab endorsement $225.00
Soft Shell Endorsement $250.00 per year
Soft Shell Tags 400 maximum per license $.50 each = $200.00 per year
Total $1,175.00 per year
This added expense for an industry that is already controlled by Mother Nature and all the above listed expenses minus the Tag program. There is absolutely no reason to further regulate this industry. Blue Crab stocks are strong and the free market and Mother Nature will dictate who participates in the industry. Always has always will.
I have spoken with several crabbers and Fisherman both on the East and West Coast. They have all told me that they are very happy that the legislators did not strap them with this unnecessary expense of the tag program that would have ultimately put a lot of them out of business.
From a Blue Crabbing Family
The author and his son steer their boat toward an uncertain future due to the FWC's totally needless attempts to price and regulate the crabbing industry out of business.
Note from Fishing For Freedom: It has been reported by Blue Crabbers across the state that Venezuela is flooding the marketplace with so-called "blue crab" meat. (See illustration of the so-called "blue crab" above.) The Venezuelan crab meat purchased at .37 cents a pound, is believed to be packaged by ruthless processors and resold as fresh blue crab meat. - This is a practice that Fishing For Freedom will be gathering information about for a report to the Department of Agriculture. All information sent to us will be kept confidential, unless otherwise requested. Florida processors should think twice about buying imports from a country whose President, Hugo Chavez, hates America.
"It's not fish ye're buyin, it's men's lives." ... Think about it ... A quote from Sir Walter Scott