By Susan Chambers – December 22, 2016


Fishery managers and food safety specialists consistently exercised caution in opening the crab season this year due to elevated levels of domoic acid found in crabs along Oregon’s central coast. The almost month-long delay in opening the season allowed for additional testing for domoic acid to provide confidence that crab harvested from Oregon waters are safe to consume and of excellent quality. Washington added testing stations in November and December and consistently found levels below alert levels.

In Oregon, the area from Cape Blanco (just north of Port Orford) to the Oregon/Washington border will open at 9 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. It will be preceded by a 73-hour pre-soak period beginning at 8 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 29.

Dungeness crab

In Washington, three areas are scheduled to open to non-tribal commercial crabbers in 2017:

> Klipsan Beach (46 28′ N. Lat.) south to Washington/Oregon border (46 15′), including Willapa Bay: Crabbers can set gear at 8 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 29, and start harvesting at 9 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 1. Fishermen will be subject to reduced pot limits in these areas until a temporary pot limit is lifted on Jan. 4.

> Klipsan Beach (46 28′ N. Lat.) north to Destruction Island: Gear-setting can begin at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 4, with harvest beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 7.

> Destruction Island north to U.S.-Canadian border: This area will not open before Sunday, Jan. 15. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will provide more information and specific regulations for this area in the future, according to a WDFW industry notice.

Crabbers also will be subject to fair start provisions.

As the crab fishery underway, state agencies will continue to monitor marine biotoxins in shellfish to ensure concentrations remain below the alert level for consumer safety, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said in a press release relating to Oregon’s fishery..

“Along with the state agencies, the Oregon commercial Dungeness crab industry has taken a very proactive and precautionary approach to the opening of this crab season in the interest of public safety and consumer confidence in a high quality product,” ODFW Marine Resources Program Manager Caren Braby said.

Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission Director Hugh Link said Wednesday it’s unclear whether further state-supervised price negotiations will be requested. Fishermen’s marketing associations must request the Oregon Department of Agriculture to re-open the negotiations — a provision included in the earlier price agreement — if they want to re-negotiate prices once the opening date was set for a majority of the state. Fishermen and processors acknowledge this year’s crab markets are in a disarray due to China’s refusal to buy live crab from FAO area 67, which includes Washington, Oregon and northern California.

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