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Crab Price Negotiations Successful–Season Starts
Dungeness crab fishermen along the coast of Oregon will begin setting their pots in the ocean at today after an agreement was reached in the annual state-supervised crab price negotiations late Wednesday afternoon.
The 2012/13 crab season will officially start at 12:01am on Monday, December 31st, after ‘meat-fill’ concerns triggered a month-long delay in the fishery, which normally opens on December 1st. Terms of the agreement, negotiated between the state’s five port crab marketing associations and four seafood processors under the supervision of the Oregon Department of Agriculture, have been reviewed and formally ratified by ODA Director Katy Coba, as required by statute.
ODA Marketing Division head Gary Roth noted that this was the seventh time in the past ten years the bargaining process has achieved a mutually agreeable ‘opening price’. Fishing fleets in all three West Coast states were idled after pre-season tests indicated that crabs in some areas would not meet minimum ‘opening standards’ based on meat-to-shell ratios established to insure good quality product in the marketplace.
Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission spokesperson Hugh Link, is convinced that the delay will benefit consumers in the long run. “This year’s crop needed a little more time in the ocean and although it was disappointing not to have boatloads of fresh crab for the holidays, waiting until they are nice and full was the right thing to do.”
Waters in Oregon and southern Washington will be open for commercial crabbing on December 31st, and crabbers are hoping they can make up for lost time. California officials recently decided to postpone the start of the northern CA crab fishery until January 15th, as an extra precaution.