US West Coast processors, Dungeness crab fishermen reach agreement to end strike

Published on
January 9, 2017

Crab processors reached an agreement with representatives of fleets fishing off the U.S. West Coast on Friday, 6 January to buy Dungeness crab for USD 2.875 (EUR 2.73) a pound, prompting fishermen to lift a two-week strike.

Fishermen had been on strike since around Christmas in protest of a USD 0.25 (EUR 0.24) per-pound drop in buying price by Pacific Choice Seafood, based in Eureka, California and owned by Pacific Seafood out of Portland, Oregon.

Processors up and down the coast had agreed to buy at USD 3 (EUR 2.84) per pound prior to the season and honored that agreement in early buys from the San Francisco Bay Area Dungeness fishery, which opened in mid-November. Officials held up the opening of the Humboldt County Dungeness fishery in Northern California on uncertainty over domoic acid levels. But when fishing was set to open in Humboldt County around Christmas, Pacific Choice dropped their price and crabbers tied up.

Strikes are not uncommon for West Coast crabbers, but fishermen said the unity of this protest was unprecedented. Officials estimated some 1,200 boats, including those from Native American communities, from 15 ports had joined the strike, which started 26 December.

Representatives from Pacific Seafood, Trident Seafoods, Hallmark Fisheries and other processors agreed on splitting the difference between USD 3 and 2.75 (EUR 2.84 and 2.73) during negotiations last week in Newport, Oregon.

None of the processors replied to requests to comment on the strike, but Pacific Seafood General Counsel Dan Occhipinti sent out an email defending the company’s actions.

“It can be challenging to find the right balance, but we’re confident that at the end of the day, consumers will get wholesome, sustainably harvested Dungeness crab at a price they can afford,” Occhipinti wrote.

SF Gate reported last week that Bay Area markets were already running out of Dungeness crab as a result of the strike.

Contributing Editor reporting from Seattle, USA

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