Staggered Dungeness crab season openings along the coast of California northward, the result of concerns over levels of the neurotoxin domoic acid detected in some crabs, meant the price of crab per pound wasn't completely fixed this year, and fisherman who had counted on $3 per pound and were confronted by a major wholesaler offering just $2.75 per pound have now tied up their boats and gone on strike until they receive their desired price.
"There’s going to be no crabbing from any port from Bodega Bay to the Washington-Canada border,” Lorne Edwards, president of the industry trade group called the Bodega Bay Fisherman’s Marketing Association, told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. “It’s huge I’m not expecting a change until after New Year’s.”
The $2.75 per pound price comes from Pacific Choice Seafood according to the Chronicle, a Humboldt County wholesaler that's one of the West Coast's biggest seafood processors. The price sparked Humboldt Bay fishermen to strike, with their Bodega Bay brethren following suit. Their Oregonian and Washingtonian fellows are now also striking in solidarity.
Meanwhile, Half Moon Bay and San Francisco fishermen are still catching crabs. Whether prices in Bay Area markets will change remains unclear, and if you're dining locally, we've got the recommendation list for you.
Vice president Ken Bates of the Humboldt Fishermen’s Marketing Association put the possible loss tied to a 25 cent difference in price per pound at $7,000 to $10,000 per boat in just the next few months. Rather than lower the price, the reverse is the norm: “Generally speaking, in a normal season prices tend to go up as the season progresses and as the crab volume diminishes,” Bates told the Chronicle.
The strike for northern fishing comes after last year's disastrous local crabbing season in which a ban on Dungeness fishing in the Bay Area wasn't lifted until March. Last year's concerns, like those that triggered this season's staggered start, were about domoic acid levels.