The commercial Dungeness crab season will be delayed until mid-December along the entire Oregon Coast as state testing shows crabs are too low in meat yield.
The lucrative fishery traditionally opens on Dec. 1, but has been delayed in recent years for a number of reasons. Last year, the season was delayed by the state twice because of low meat yield, but was then further delayed because of price negotiations and bad weather.
This year, crab quality testing in early November showed crab in most test areas did not meet the criteria for a Dec. 1 opening. The delay will allow crab more time to fill with meat, state fishery managers said.
A second round of testing will occur later this month or in early December. The results will determine if the fishery opens Dec. 16, or if it should be further delayed or split into areas with different opening dates.
Fishermen, cautiously optimistic for a Dec. 1 opener, have already been preparing gear as usual. For them, the delay means even more time before they see a paycheck.
The fishery is Oregon’s most valuable. Last year, commercial fishermen landed 23.1 million pounds into Oregon — about 31 percent over the 10-year average — and saw the highest ex-vessel value ever at $74 million.
Another factor that has delayed past crab seasons — elevated levels of the marine toxin domoic acid — is behind current crab closures from Cape Blanco to the California border.
Where there are no health advisories, recreational harvest of Dungeness crab will open in the ocean Dec. 1.