Photo by Debra Hamilton
As the recreational Dungeness crab fishery has recently opened on November 2, 2013 there is great anticipation for the commercial crab season scheduled to start December 1, here on the Mendocino coast. This year anglers should find the crabs to be a little heavier compared to the last couple of years. The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) conducted a pre-season crab quality testing crabs out of Eureka, Crescent City and Fort Bragg. Marine Biologist Pete Kalvass, who oversees the Invertebrate Management Project, says the crabs are quite a bit meatier than what was expected. Most years you would find the meat content around 20%, with the theory being that crabs generally will add 1% of of meat each week and reach the 25% mark for the commercial season scheduled to open December 1. Crabs tested from Crescent City were at 24.5%, and Eureka at 23.2% and the Fort Bragg area tested the highest at 25.8%.
It is hard to tell if all the crabs are in good shape due to the small sample sized gathered. Either the crabs haven’t molted yet, or there is an abundance of food due to the lesser volume of crab. We will see how the sport boats do after the next round of tests. So we will all keep an eye on how the sport fishing of crab will be to see the potential of the start of the commercial season.