The many-times-delayed local Dungeness crab season is finally here, and fishermen are selling the crab straight off the boat down at Fisherman’s Wharf Piers 45 and 47.
San Francisco crab lovers are well aware that this year's Dungeness crab season was delayed for the fifth year in a row (actually last year’s Dungeness crab season, as the season was supposed to start in mid-November 2023). But after numerous delays meant to protect migrating whales from the crabbing nets, the California Department of Fish & Wildlife declared last week that Dungeness crab season would finally begin Thursday, January 18… which is today!
And for the third year in a row, you can buy fresh, raw Dungeness crab straight off the boat, getting fresher crab than in stores, and directly supporting the fishermen. (They prefer cash, though some will take PayPal or Venmo.)
Who's ready for crab? 🦀 #tbt to a crowd of people gather to buy crab from a fisherman's stall. Dungeness crab is now available direct from fishers. Head to @TheWharfSF for fresh crab straight from the boats. 🔗 https://t.co/U26WXWdijk— Port of San Francisco (@SFPort) January 18, 2024
📸: @sfpubliclibrary #throwbackthursday pic.twitter.com/qWPvczFXuY
“Purchase fresh live crab and fresh caught fish direct from local fishers at Fisherman's Wharf,” the Port of San Francisco said in an announcement this week. “All fish and crab sold under this permit are to be sold whole (uncooked, whole fish, gilled and gutted only) and in accordance with all Health Code regulations.”
You can only buy Dungeness crab fresh off the boat at Pier 45 and Pier 47. On the above map from the Port of SF, Pier 47 is labeled as the seafood restaurant Scoma’s. Though the Port also warns, “Do not use the Scoma's restaurant parking. There are parking structures and street parking available.”
It's finally crab season! Starting tomorrow, January 18, vessels will be selling freshly caught crab off their boats along the docks off Al Scoma Way and Pier 47. Get your hands on fresh local Dungeness 🦀 > https://t.co/U26WXWdijk pic.twitter.com/eY7bvQ83wk— Port of San Francisco (@SFPort) January 17, 2024
To best keep track of the fishermen’s hours and availability — and it’s recommended you show up as early as possible — you can follow the Facebook page San Francisco off the boat sales Pier 45 and Pier 47, or the Instagram page seafoodfromtheboat.sf. There’s also a local seafood finder app FishLine (for iOS and Android) which “provides info on purchasing directly off-the-boat from fishermen and from local seafood markets, farmer’s markets, restaurants and cafés.”
In general, the crabs will be for sale at the docks from sun-up to sundown on Saturdays and Sundays, priced at $10 per pound, and sometimes on Fridays.
Fans can also seek out local crab fisherwoman Holly Fruehling, who said on Facebook she'd try to be there by 3 p.m. Thursday, but also definitely on Saturday.
If you’re a first-time fresh, raw crab buyer, the Port of SF recommends you check availability on those websites or apps before heading out, arrive early, and bring your own container: “preferably something thicker like a cooler or bucket. Crab claws are no match for plastic bags.” The crab you buy will likely still be alive!
In Eater SF’s series, Highly Opinionated, Eater editors delve into one specific, oft-debated food obsession in San Francisco. This month, editors share their favorite places to crack into Dungeness crab in San Francisco. https://t.co/JFe6unFucW— Eater SF (@eatersf) January 16, 2024
If you’re a little squeamish over buying raw crabs that might still be alive right off the boat, there are plenty of retail seafood proprietors who’ll have Dungeness crab too. The seafood restaurants at Fisherman's Wharf will also likely have crab on the menu, and Eater SF just published a list of their favorite SF restaurants for Dungeness crab.
SAN FRANCISCO - NOVEMBER 15: Freshly caught crab is seen in a bin after being unloaded from a boat on the first day of Dungeness crab season November 15, 2006 in San Francisco, California. Dungeness crab season officially began today after crab fisherman agreed with processors on a catch price of $1.85 per pound. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)