Workers on the dock use a hoist to load crab pots onto small fishing boats at the Port of Brookings Harbor
Fishermen agree on a price of $2.65 per pound for crab that can be brought to port beginning at 12:01 a.m. Monday
Commercial crab season in Curry County kicks off this weekend, with the start of the season beginning at 12:01 a.m. Monday.
Boats were already in the water at 8 a.m. Friday. Fishermen are allowed to set their crab pots in the water 64 hours ahead of the beginning of the commercial harvesting season.
Earlier in the week, negotiations between fishermen and fish buyers in Oregon resulted in an agreed upon price of $2.65 a pound to start the season. The price is 35 cents more than last year and is the highest price agreed upon in the last 11 years, according to Hugh Link of the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission.
Representatives from each of the port’s fishermen’s marketing associations, which represent 63 percent of active permit holders, meet with fish buyers to set an opening price for crab. The price is just for the opening and could change from there, going either up or down.
“Personally, I was looking to get a minimum of $2.75 a pound,” said boat owner and fisherman Bernie Lindley. “But I’m hoping to see the price come up during the first week of the season, and we’ll see the price rise to $2.75.”
Fishermen in Northern California, from Crescent City south to Fort Bragg, had been on strike for 12 days, holding out for an opening price of $3 a pound after they had been offered $2.50 a pound by fish buyers. California fishermen settled on $2.65 a pound after hearing Oregon fishermen had agreed to that price.
“It’s too bad we didn’t get closer to our 3 dollars, but we’ll go make the best of it for now,” said Randy Smith, a representative for the crab fleet in Crescent City, which has far more Dungeness crab landings than any other port in California. There is some disappointment among the fleet, he said, but he is “happy to go fishing.”
Oregon’s commercial crab season had been delayed until Dec. 16 because test catches from ports on the Northern Oregon Coast did not show the required amount of meat in them. The season can begin as early as Dec. 1 in Oregon, but can be delayed. Northern California fishermen could have started fishing as soon as Dec. 1, but delayed in order to try to get a higher price from buyers.
Crab tends to be cyclical in the amount harvested, with harvests fluctuating from year to year. Last year, Brookings caught the most crab of any port in Oregon, harvesting more than 5 million pounds.