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Soft shell crab prices: June 2013

famdoc Jun 16, 2013 04:54 AM

What goes with soft shell crab prices? Last week, I could find soft shells at my favorite fish markets for $3.50-4 each, this week, they're $7.50-9 each.
We're in the NJ-PA region and sellers are stating that the supply is very short, probably because of problems in the waters in which they are harvested. Nothing on google news about this. Are others finding the same price crisis in their areas? This is peak soft shell season, isn't it?

  1. p
    Phoebe Jun 22, 2013 01:43 AM

    Spoke to my fishmonger today and was told the shortage is due to the (still) cold temp of the water. (At least here in NC.) Current soft shell prices are $5 each. Hard shells are almost non existent. Fresh lump meat is going for $28.99 a lb. (I'd never seen higher than $23.) He also told me a lot of the crabbers are so desperate to make money due to the shortage, they're shipping too many of the female hard shells to MD... instead of throwing them back. Premium prices are being paid for bushels of females. Which is usually NEVER the case. Sadly, they'll be "paying" for that mistake in the very near future....

    1. fldhkybnva Jun 16, 2013 02:41 PM

      I've been paying $6, the price doesn't seem to change.

      1. chefj Jun 16, 2013 11:48 AM

        I believe that there is a shortage of live Blue Crab and Soft Shells by extension this year. Scarcity drives price.

        1. mudcat Jun 16, 2013 07:15 AM

          Commercial production of soft shell crabs is an expensive, labor intensive business 24/7. Hobby production is considerably less expensive but does not produce enough soft shells to make it profitable. The crabs have to be caught, checked for pink sign, transferred to shedding tanks or floats and monitored closely. Some commercial crabbers sell their pink sign crabs to shedders. Some shedders catch their own. There are many variables beyond the control of the shedders that can make or break the operation. Risky business.

          I live in an area that abounds in seafood but have yet to find any soft shells that I would purchase in any of the markets. I wade tidal creeks with a scoop net and catch my own. Its never a sure thing but lots of fun.

          5 Replies
          1. re: mudcat
            MGZ Jun 16, 2013 07:22 AM

            "If they're floatin', they're gettin' fried."

            1. re: MGZ
              chefj Jun 16, 2013 02:47 PM


              1. re: chefj
                MGZ Jun 17, 2013 02:36 AM

                Crabs that have just shed tend to swim on the surface. Folks who have the luxury of livin' on or near the water simply net them when they see 'em. You know they're not hard and you know they're gonna be a sandwich soon.

                It's kinda like walkin' down the street and seein' a bill.

                1. re: MGZ
                  chefj Jun 17, 2013 04:20 PM

                  I have never heard of that.
                  We get ours either hiding in the rocks near shore or in our pots(not all that safe little know to the crab).
                  Almost always doubles or in the pots sometimes peeling Males.

                  1. re: chefj
                    MGZ Jun 17, 2013 07:52 PM

                    Third generation livin' on the water. Eventually, one of us learns somethin'.

          2. p
            Phoebe Jun 16, 2013 07:12 AM

            Not in my neck of the woods.... NC coast. They've been $3.00-$5.00 a piece, depending on size. (I'm sure location has EVERYTHING to do with it.) Hadn't heard of a shortage. I'll be sure to ask my fishmonger, next time I see him.

            1. MGZ Jun 16, 2013 05:13 AM

              Softies are more abundant around full moons as that is when they are most likely to molt.

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