The commercial Dungeness crab season will be delayed until at least Dec. 31 along the entire Oregon Coast, meaning the loss of the lucrative Christmas market for the second year in a row.
And there’s still no word on how soon commercial crabbing will open off Washington’s coast.
Testing shows the crabs are still too low in meat in half of the areas along the Pacific Coast, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Friday. About 25% of a crab’s weight has to be meat before season opening.
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In November, representatives from Washington, Oregon and California fish and wildlife departments agreed to delay the opening through at least Dec. 15.
The ocean commercial Dungeness crab season in Oregon typically opens Dec. 1, but it can be delayed to allow the crabs to fill with more meat. Crab quality testing in late November and early December showed many areas within the Tri-State region didn’t meet criteria for opening, according to the ODFW press release.
Commercial harvesting in Oregon bays is now closed for the remainder of the year.
Continued testing will determine if the season should open Dec. 31, be further delayed or split into separate areas with different opening dates.
Commercial Dungeness crab is Oregon’s most valuable fishery, according to the press release. Last year’s delayed season opening still brought in the second highest ex-vessel value at $66.7 million, with 18.7 million pounds landed.
Recreational crab harvesting is open coastwide in the ocean, bays and estuaries and on beaches, docks, piers and jetties. Recreational crabbers should call the Shellfish hotline at 800-448-2474 or check the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s recreational shellfish webpage for closures before crabbing.