NEWPORT, Ore. — Crabbers beware! The typical schedule for Dungeness crabbing season is already being pushed back this year due to a combination of insufficient meat and elevated toxin levels, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW).
Traditionally, Dungeness crab season opens on December 1. This year, however, ODFW says that the season opening has been pushed back until at least December 16 along the entire Oregon coast. Tests have shown that crabs are "too low in meat yield."
"The ocean commercial Dungeness crab season in Oregon is targeted to open Dec. 1, but can be delayed to ensure a high-quality product to consumers and avoid wastage of the resource. Crab quality testing in early November showed that the majority of test areas did not meet the criteria for a Dec. 1 opening. The delayed opening will allow for crab to fill with more meat," ODFW said.
There are also commercial and recreational crabbing closures in effect from Cape Blanco south to the California border due to elevated levels of domoic acid, according to ODFW.
"Crab and shellfish products sold in retail markets and restaurants remain safe for consumers," ODFW said. "The closure in the health advisory area ensures safety and the delay in the commercial ocean season promotes a high quality product."
The agency says that commercial Dungeness crab is Oregon's most valuable fishery. Last year the crabbing season also saw delays, but still fetched a record-breaking poundage and price — 23.1 million pounds of crab, around 31 percent above the 10-year average, according to ODFW.