US West Coast Dungeness crab season set for rare on-schedule opening
The Dungeness crab fisheries across most of the U.S. West Coast are set to open Wednesday, 1 December.
The Dungeness season in Oregon, Washington, and Northern California are set to open on time after years in which the opener has been delayed. The Tri-State Dungeness Crab Committee, which manages the fishery under the auspices of the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, said preseason testing revealed high meat yields and little to no trace of domoic acid, the primary reason for delays of previous openers.
Dungeness crab, which is native to the U.S. Pacific nearshore habitat from Alaska to Mexico, supports one of the West Coast’s most-valuable fisheries, grossing USD 178.6 million (EUR 154.1 million) in 2020 and USD 135.1 million (EUR 117 million) in 2021. This year, for the first time in many years, Dungeness crab from the U.S. West Coast could arrive in domestic markets in advance of the Christmas holiday, which could push sales even higher, according to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Coastal Shellfish Manager Dan Ayres.
“You never give it 100 percent confidence, but I think compared to past years, it certainly looks better than it was,” Ayers told The Seattle Times.
Crabbers began setting their gear on Sunday, 28 November and can begin hauling in crab pots on 1 December, except for along the Central California coast, where large numbers of humpback whales have been spotting, delaying the season in California’s Zone 3 and Zone 4 until at least 15 December.
Tim Novotny Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission Spokesman told The Astorian crab fishermen still must negotiate a price for their catch with processors.
“[But] we are over one big hurdle to a potential 1 December opener for the first time since 2014,” Novotny said.
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