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What Panacea blue crab harvesters predict the industry will look in the future

Posted at 5:56 PM, Jun 03, 2024
  • Blue crabs are a big part of Panacea's local economy.
  • I spoke to one blue crab harvester about the industry and the direction it is going.
  • Watch the video to see what he says about the future of the business

BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT:

"It's something I want to do until I die."

Mitch Spears has been blue crab harvesting his whole life

"Me and my brother we've always made a living doing it and we've done good."

But he says things about the industry have changed throughout the years. One of those things is increased costs of supplies like crab traps.

"Forty years ago my daddy bought them $1 a piece, so they went up a little bit."

I looked online and the average price of the traps are $55 and up.

Spears says he has to replace his almost every week because the turtles go after the traps.

"See here all the bite marks."

Marshall Spears owns RMS Marine supply and has been selling supplies for over 40 years and says he's noticed fewer blue crabbers.

"I don't make as much money as I used to, but it's still the back bone of my business."

He's says he sees more boaters are coming into the shop nowadays.

"It affects this whole area no doubt about it."

Spears says it can inconsistent each day which is why some struggle to make a living.

"If there weren't any crabs yesterday then I have to go tomorrow and get more bait so for someone who doesn't have resources or money, it cost me $500 a day so I have to catch that many crabs."

That's why he says most people who end up crab harvesting for a living grew up doing it.

"I can see anyone getting into crabbing now unless they know what they're doing."

That's why he's trying to teach the younger generations in his family how to do it so that it can continue on.

"I'm getting too old, there isn't anyone coming up behind us as much, but we got a couple nephews that like to fish, but as far as a lot of it I think it could be a lost thing."

Support our local blue crab harvesters if you can. To learn more about their history, check out the Wakulla Welcome Center in Panacea.