Although they’re not calling it a strike, crabbers say they will hold off on fishing until next week so plants and the boats can “get cleaned up.”
Randy Smith, owner of the fishing vessel Mistasea, said seafood buyers have begun offering $2.50 per pound of crab brought in, 25 cents less than what was being offered when crabbers began fishing on Feb. 5.
But, Smith, who attended a meeting of the Del Norte Fisherman’s Marketing Association on Friday, said seafood buyers have told fishermen that they won’t take any more crab until Monday or Tuesday.
“It’s kind of confusing whether they don’t want us fishing until then, but they didn’t want a big glut of crabs,” Smith said. “They’re receiving a lot (of crab), but individual boats are not catching a lot any more.”
Smith noted Crescent City Harbor as well as the ports in Eureka, Trinidad and Fort Bragg are full of crab boats. He said the fisherman’s marketing association will meet again on Monday.
“Maybe we’ll know more I hope,” Smith said. “We got to kind of wait around and see. If we go fishing now it’s going to be for $2.50. If we wait, the worst thing that will happen is we go fishing for $2.50, but the better thing would be for $2.75.”
Rick Shepherd, president of the Del Norte Fisherman’s Marketing Association, noted one reason for the glut of crab may be due to the fact that fishermen in Oregon, Washington and California began plying their trade at the same time.
“The plants got really plugged up because it was an opener for everywhere and there’s a lot of crab that came across the dock all at once,” he said. “I think we’re just going to let things get cleaned up over the weekend and we should go back to fishing for $2.75.”
Aaron Newman, who is a member of the Del Norte Fisherman’s Association, but fishes out of Eureka, said a few million pounds have already been sold in Crescent City, Eureka and Trinidad but the season’s winding down.
Also crabbers who have been fishing in southern parts of California were permitted to begin fishing in Del Norte County waters on Wednesday, Newman said. Those fishermen were required to delay plying their trade off of Crescent City for about 30 days starting Jan. 15 when the California Department of Fish and Wildlife began the Dungeness season, he said.
The Dungeness crab season in Crescent City typically starts Dec. 1. But CDFW delayed the season to Jan. 15 due to quality test results in November and December. Jan. 15 is the latest the department can delay the season due to quality testing.
However, even though the season officially opened Jan. 15, crabbers still held off fishing. In a Jan. 16 article, Newman told the Triplicate that crab quality was still in question and seafood buyers wanted more testing before offering a price.
Reach Jessica Cejnar at email@example.com .