Dec 12 2014

Dungeness landings likely down 50% in California, 40% in Oregon; lowest volumes in 8 years

Posted with permission of SEAFOODNEWS.COM | by John Sackton December 11, 2014


The crabs are great.  Its just that there aren’t that many of them.

The Oregon Dungeness fishery opened on time on December 1st, after a short season in the San Francisco Bay area, called district 10.

But boats are simply not finding many crabs.

dungeness-estimateGraph: Seafood Datasearch, based on state and federal data

One fishermen, describing the northern California / Oregon fishery which opened December 1st, said “North of District 10 was the worst opener I can remember.  We knew it would be bad, but not this bad.”

Larger vessels that have the ability to move to other fisheries are now leaving the crab fishery, as the catch rates can no longer support their operations.

Meanwhile, the price at the dock has risen to $3.50, and most packers have extended that retroactively back to December 1st, when the fishery opened with an initial price of $3.10.

The upshot is that harvesters are now predicting the Oregon fishery to be down about 40% from last years 14.3 million pounds, and California is likely to be down 50%.

This means that coast wide, certainly for December and Janaury, it is looking like the lowest total landings for dungeness in the last eight years.

Hugh Link, Executive Director of the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission, said fishermen keep records and know if they are up or down year over year, and that he definitely has the sense that there are fewer Dungeness crabs coming into pots this year, even though fish tickets are still being tallied from the first few days of the season.

Meat fill has been excellent, the fishery opened on time, and there was agreement on price. Only the crabs have not shown up.

The fishery is highly cyclical, so it is quite likely in a few years we will again be talking about heavy supplies of Dungeness.  But for this year, the section and crabmeat supplies will be very tight, and what crab is landed later in the year should be going mainly to the live market.

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