Season opening promising for lobster

By Steve Estes

Lobster season opened with the bang most hoped it would Tuesday, with catches about four times the size as those opening day last year.

“We shipped one vat, about 700 pounds, last year on opening day,” said Bobby Holloway, owner of Fanci Seafood on Cudjoe Key. “Tuesday, we shipped five vats with almost 3,000 pounds.”

He said they followed that Wednesday with another shipment of more than 2,500 pounds.

“This is a lot better start than we had last year,” he said.

In 2012, commercial lobster fishermen suffered one of their worst year’s on record, with low catches and an early end to the season with Atlantic storms that brushed, but didn’t hit the Keys.

“I heard all day that the lobster were in shallow, so maybe that’s a good sign for later in the season,” said Holloway. “We’ll wait and see.”

The price to the boat started at $5.50 per pound Tuesday, but was up to $6 per pound Wednesday.

Local fisherman had said  they’d be happy if the price held at about $6 per pound for opening day so they could try and recoup some of their horrendous losses from last year when the price remained strong, but there was no catch.

“The bullynetters have said they’ve had no problem hitting limit. The divers have come in with limit catches and most of the boats are bringing in good catches right now,” said Holloway.

The Asian market doesn’t seem to be as strong this year as it was last year, with Chinese buyers reportedly paying $7 per pound on opening day.

“We can almost compete with that price,” said Holloway. “Particularly if the catch is good.”

Keys commercial lobster fishermen account for more than 80 percent of the domestic production of spiny lobster in the US.

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