Commercial crab season opener delayed at least two weeks

Low meat content pushes back commercial Dungeness season “at least” until Dec. 15

The commercial Dungeness crab fishery off the Washington coast, which traditionally opens Dec. 1, has been delayed until at least Dec. 15 after tests showed that crab do not meet minimum meat-recovery criteria, according to a statement from Dan Ayres, Department of Fish and Wildlife shellfish manager.

If any area does not meet the minimum meat recovery criteria — 23% north of Cascade Head, located north of Lincoln City on the Oregon Coast, and 25% south of Cascade Head — after the first round of testing, a delay in the season opener and additional testing is required before a season opening date can be confirmed, said Ayres.

Test pots pulled Nov. 7 off Westport showed 22.6% meat recovery, just below the minimum; the previous day, pots pulled at Long Beach showed 20.4%. Tests all along the west coast showed Dungeness crab with below-the-minimum meat content to allow a fishery, and the commercial fishing season has been delayed from Point Area, California north to the U.S./Canada border.

A second round of both meat recovery and domoic acid testing is scheduled to be conducted in late November and/or early December. Ayres said the department will provide additional information regarding the season opening as soon as possible following the completion of the upcoming tests.