Dispute Threatens Dungeness Crab Harvest

Photo by Dan Howard/NOAA/CBNMS
Photo by Dan Howard/NOAA/CBNMS

On Thanksgiving weekend, I went to visit friends who cooked us dinner, highlighted by some delicious crab cakes. But for Californians wanting access to the Pacific’s Dungeness crab population could find it more difficult while commercial fishermen squabble with seafood distributors over the selling price per pound of crab meat.

From the Associated Press via ABC news:

Dungeness crab could be harder to come by if hundreds of fishing boats remain tied up at docks from California to Washington state by a dispute between crabbers and seafood processors over the price of the sought-after crustaceans.

Crab fleets that have been fishing in parts of Oregon and near San Francisco are now anchored, and other vessels in Washington state and Northern California have opted not to go out as their season gears up, said John Corbin, a commercial crab fisherman in Warrenton, Oregon, and chairman of the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission.

“We have about 1,200 boats that are tied up and are willing to stay tied up until processors bring the price back to $3 (a pound)” from the latest offer of $2.75, Corbin said Tuesday.

At Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, crab pots remained stacked up along the docks during what typically would be a busy season. From Half Moon Bay, California, to Westport, Washington, crabbers said they would stay put.

Larry Andre, a commercial crab fisherman in Half Moon Bay who had been fishing since November, said he supports the strike.

“We’re tying up because they’ve asked us — other ports — to support them,” Andre said.

It doesn’t sound like much, but a quarter drop in price is a lot when thousands of pounds of crab is involved, he said, adding that the situation is a lot harder on those who have not yet started crabbing.

It’s just not realistic to think in a world full of strikes, walkouts and lockouts that two business groups will always see things eye to eye. So while this news is disappointing, it’s hardly shocking.