Kevin Dartez, owner of Harvest Time Seafood, has watched the crab industry have good and bad times throughout the last six years. The last two years, however, have been bad. From 2008 to 2011, the season has been down. Dartez was not able to pinpoint as to why. It could range from the aftereffects of a busy hurricane season in 2005 to BP oil spill in 2010.
But in his gut, and early catches in the deep channels by fishermen, is pointing to a positive year.
“I’m predicting it will be a good year,” said Dartez. “My deep channel fishermen caught 2,000 pounds, which is a good sign.”
Those crabs in deep channels will soon be moving in the marshes and lakes of south Louisiana. Crab season gets underway this month and will continue throughout the summer. He said, like everything else, crab season goes in cycles. One year will be good while another year it will be bad. But over the last few years, the industry was down.
Many are pointing to the BP oil spill as to why the crab industry has fallen off.
In the Houma Courier newspaper, Dennis Landry, owner of Crab LLC in Larose and a member of the state’s Crab Task Force, said his catch has been down 60 percent since the 2010 Gulf oil spill.
“For our industry, I think our first interest is to figure out or get some kind of answer as to why we are down so low on crabs,” Landry said. “Is it seasonal? Is it from the Corexit (a chemical dispersant sprayed during the oil spill)?”
Tissue samples taken of the crabs have been not shown elevated levels of oil spill toxins.
Dartez said, “ I think we will be OK.”
Blue crabs are harvested year round by about 3,000 fishermen in Louisiana.
Louisiana blue crab landings averaged over 40 million pounds in recent years, and made up 30 percent of the nation’s blue crab landings in 2009