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More than a hundred crab fishing boats went on strike and stayed in harbor Wednesday in a dispute over prices that has caused a shortage of Dungeness crab in the Bay Area.

The trouble started Sunday when crab boat skippers heard that fish brokers were planning to cut the prices they pay for fresh crab from USD 3 per pound to as low as USD 1.80.

“No crab boats are leaving the dock,” said Larry Collins, president of the Crab Boat Owners Association in San Francisco. Collins said all three principal crab fishing ports were affected — San Francisco, Half Moon Bay and Bodega Bay.

“All three of the ports are going to stick together,” said Rich Fitzpatrick, who fishes out of San Francisco. “This is hard work. Why should we take a pay cut?”

Fish brokers, such as the Alioto-Lazio Fish Co. in San Francisco, said the supply has already been affected. “We filled our tanks (with fresh crab) over the last few days,” said Annette Traverso, a partner in Alioto-Lazio. “We are filling orders for the holiday season, but now I can see the bottom of the tank.”

The situation, she said, “is day to day. I'm praying.”

Disputes about the price of Dungeness crab are often a feature of the holiday season. Last year, the fishermen refused to sail until after Thanksgiving when they got the price they wanted — which turned out to be about USD 2.25 per pound.

Click here to read the full story from the San Francisco Chronicle >

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