Crab Season

It’s the start of the Dungeness crab season in Bodega Bay, but we may have to wait a bit longer for our all-you-can eat crab feed.

First, the price hasn’t yet been set. The fisherman are proposing $1.85 a pound, last year, they got $1.75 a pound at the beginning of the season. Processing adds another .75 to the price, the stores buy crab for about $2.75 a pound and sell it for about $3.00 a pound at the store.  About 600,000 pounds of crab a year comes though Bodega Bay.

Quality is the second concern.  Tomorrow, they are going to pull some test pots to test the quality of the crab meat.  If the crabs are not mature, the meat is not a good quality.  The crabs at the south end of the Dungeness crab range south of Point Arena seem to mature faster, and that’s where the sports crabbers are now finding that the crabs aren’t quite ready.

Dungeness crabs are caught in baited circular steel traps commonly called ‘pots’,
each attached to a buoy. Pots are fitted with openings for sub-legal
sized crabs to escape through and a device that that opens the pots and
allows crabs to escape in the event that pots are lost. The pots are
set on the ocean floor following the contour of the adjacent coastline
at depths of 60 to 600 feet. The crabs are sorted and kept alive
on-board the vessel in circulated seawater until they are delivered to
shore-side processing plants.

Update:  On November 17th, the Press Democrat reports the crabs have been found to conform with the industry standard with least 25% of their body weight in meat, so the hang up is now the price.  The crab fisherman are trying to put up a united front and all stay in port until they negotiate a price of $1.85 a pound.  Some markets are trying to work out a deal with a lower price but adding a fuel surcharge.  We’ll see if we’re going to get our crab for Thanksgiving.


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