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Four days into the 2014-15 crab season and a lot of fishermen are getting more crabbier than crab. They’re harvesting huge crabs but not in any great numbers. What’s normally 15-20 crabs to the pot, are coming up at 3 to 5 to a pot. Crab prices today hovered around $3.35 a pound with the likelihood that it’ll go lots higher if the catch trends continue. And they probably will.
From Astoria down to Coos Bay it’s the same story. Big crabs but far fewer in number. Fishermen say it’s the cycle of the sea. One remarked, “We’ve been having banner years the last ten years. Ocean conditions just changed on us.”
A scarcity of product is expected to drive prices higher, exceeding last year’s peak rate of $4-$5 a pound.
But again, with fewer crab to catch the season could end pretty fast – boat captains are looking at the bottom line very closely.
While aberrant conditions prevail off Oregon and probably Washington (the non-tribal fleet has not yet launched up there) crabbing out of San Francisco is going great guns. So it shows the variability of ocean conditions.
One long-time observer of commercial fishing off the Oregon Coast said “The crabbers will make money this season, but not so much they can go out and buy a new pickup or any other big purchases. So the effects will be felt in our local economy.” But he quickly added that there’s a lot more fish in the sea and other fisheries will be opening up after the first of the year.