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Commercial Crab Season Delayed in Northern California, Oregon and Washington


DFG photo by Debra Hamilton

Dungeness Crab in a Baited Crab Pot

Fishery managers in Washington, Oregon and Northern California have delayed the opening of the commercial Dungeness crab season for at least two weeks to allow the crabs to fill out with more meat. The area of the delay is from Point Arena in Mendocino county, north to Washington state.

Normally the Dungeness crab season would open on December 1. The same move was also made last year after the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife tested the crabs in the same region and determined that the delay would improve the quality of the Dungeness crab.

 Opening for commercial Dungeness crab season last year was  opened on Friday, December 16. An important commercial shellfish, Dungeness crab are usually caught in near shore marine waters less than 120 feet deep with baited crab pots. The average size of an adult male (only males may be taken) is two to three pounds. The Dungeness crab can live a maximum of eight to thirteen years.

It is difficult to tell, but from sport fishing reports, the abundance of the Dungeness crab is not anywhere as good as the last two years. The sport fishing season opened November 3 with reports of catches good north of the Gualala River but sparse to the south. 

Last year, a record 31.6 million pounds of crab were caught in California, valued at about 95 million, the biggest catch in 100 years. In 2010 only 27.5 pounds were caught, with a value of about 57 million.

This year fisherman are asking $3 a pound and are trying to have a uniform price for the ports of Bodega Bay, San Francisco and Half Moon Bay.


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