Rejoice! North Coast Fishermen Hopeful for a Good Dungeness Crab Season
The Dungeness crab fishery in California consists of two areas: the Northern Management Area and the Central Management Area, divided at the Mendocino/Sonoma County line. The Northern Management Area is part of the Tri-State Dungeness Crab Program (TSDC) which includes the Northern Management Area, Oregon, Washington and Alaska. The Central Management Area traditionally starts on November 15th without fail, as they do not have to pass quality tests in accordance with the TSDC. This year however, whale migration has delayed the Central Management Area opening until at least December 15th.
That, coupled with the lack of King and Opilio crab this year has helped raise the demand for Dungeness Crab. With the demand high, the fishermen were able to negotiate a decent price with processors, starting the season at $4.75 a pound, up about $2.00 per pound over last year.
All good news for local fishermen who are hopeful that the recent lulls of the industry will continue to rebound. “Last year was probably the worst year in many decades,” said Ibach, who is also the Captain of Fishing Vessel Oceana.
Although off to a good start, the risk of early closure of the traditionally long crab season looms. Last year the commercial dungeness crab season was cut short by six weeks due to whale and other marine-life entanglement risks, a worry for many people that rely on the dungeness crab fishery. Conservationists at heart, “the Dungeness Crab Fishery is a very well-managed, good, sustainable fishery,” said Ibach.
Whether the season will continue through June and into July of 2022 remains unknown, but for now, we celebrate. Crab pots are already in the water. The official start of the season commenced at midnight. Locals can get fresh, good crab from multiple boats at Woodley Island Marina today, Wednesday, December 1.