Thanks to the new found ability to have fresh seafood delivered to clients across the country and an increased interest in eating healthy, the American seafood industry has enjoyed steady growth over the last few decades. According to SeafoodSource.com, the industry is now worth over $129 billion. The Florida Keys seafood industry is one of the most important in the country, generating $4.9 billion and sustaining 40,000 jobs every year, as statistics from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show.
With the increasing amount of fresh seafood delivered to markets and private individuals across all 50 states, environmental activists are calling for the industry to be reined in. The American seafood industry, they claim, is having a negative impact on both American and international marine life. The Florida Keys seafood industry, as will be seen, realizes the necessity for environmental responsibility, both for the sake of jobs and the good of the environment. Subsequently, whether you’re in the market for stone crabs, lobster tails, or freshwater shrimp, making sure your seafood is sourced from Florida is one of the best ways to eat well and protect important ecosystems. Here’s why.
Strict Harvest Seasons for Fished Species
According to the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association, the Sunshine State maintains strict fishing seasons for all of its fished species. Stone crab season, for example, lasts from October 15th to May 15th. Any crabs taken outside of that period can result in a hefty fine for fishermen.
Size Guidelines Ensure Mature, Sustainable Populations
Stone crab claws, lobsters, and other highly sought seafood must meet certain size guidelines in order to be taken and sold on the open market in Florida. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission shows that stone crab claws must be at least two and three-quarter inches to be harvested. Further, while not legally regulated, the practice of only taking one claw from each crab, thereby ensuring it can still protect itself in the wild, is encouraged and widely practiced. This gives the crabs the time they need to gather food and protect themselves until they can regrow their missing claws. As an added protection, females carrying eggs cannot be harvested and must be placed immediately back in the water when netted to protect a mating population.
An Emphasis on Protecting Habitats
As any person interested in the protection of the environment knows, protecting the animals themselves is only part of the equation; you have to protect their habitats as well. Subsequently, as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration writes, a $500 million plan is currently being implemented to shield and improve Florida Keys water quality, protecting all of the area’s species, fishable or otherwise.
If you’re considering having fresh seafood delivered for the holidays but you’re worried about the impact you might be having on the environment, look to the Florida Keys seafood industry. With strict regulations governing harvesting seasons, what creatures can be plucked from the water, and a renewed focus on sustainable habitats, any fresh seafood delivered to you comes with the promise of environmental responsibility. Visit here for more information.