Crab trappers say catch is good, but prices aren't

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - By Al Showers – bio | email

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Crab trappers say business is slowly starting to pick up. But they wish the prices for their catch would also pick up.

Robert Metz trapped more than 600 pounds of fresh blue crabs from the Gulf Thursday, and was happy with what he found.

"Beautiful crabs out there. A lot of number one males and big, heavy, fat females," said Metz. "We lost 60 days. That's as long as I've ever been closed down for any reason."

Metz's most recent catch is bound for the state of Georgia.

"All the people around Atlanta will be buying crabs this weekend and he wanted twice as many as I'm going to be able to give him. So I'm just glad to have at least one buyer back on line."

He said his local business hasn't been as quick to come back, and he's having a hard time understanding why.

"The people that have been buying my crabs and eating them, like them. They come back and get more," Metz said. "The federal people say they're alright to eat, the state says they're alright to eat, independent labs say they're alright to eat. And the people who have been eating them say they're alright to eat, so where are you going to go from there?"

"The problem the crabbers are having is there are very few places that you can sell crabs to over here," trapper William Geerken said.

Geerken sees a serious problem on the horizon, due to the oil spill. The cost of crabs per-pound is steadily dropping. Large crabs that once commanded more than two dollars a pound are now going for just over a dollar. And he fears it may go even lower than that.

"I'm not sure if that's going to happen, but I saw three crabbers picking their traps up today. They just can't make it."

Geerken said he hopes trappers can hold out until winter when the prices will go back up because crabbing seasons in other parts of the nation shutdown.

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