Being a crab fisherman is no easy task. It’s a brutal schedule of potential danger, sleepless nights and worried families — one that will begin at 12:01 a.m. Sunday.
We won’t be able to watch the drama unfold — a la the “Deadliest Catch” TV show — as crabbers leave the Port of Brookings Harbor to risk their lives at sea. Yet, they deserve strong community support.
Because of commercial crab fishermen in Oregon, Washington and California, we and the rest of the world will have delicious seafood on our plates, and the local and state economies will receive an influx of millions of dollars that will create economic opportunities for coast residents. Officials report the total value of the 2010-11 crab season for the Oregon and Washington fishing fleet exceeded $60 million – at least 25 million pounds of Dungeness!
That is a heck of a lot of crab cakes, and a lot of back-breaking labor. There’s no denying that crab fishing is a grueling job. And there’s no guarantee of success – booms and busts are an infamous part of the business. In fact, landings of Dungeness crab in the West Coast fisheries have maintained a cyclical pattern for nearly 50 seasons, according to the Tri-State Dungeness Crab Project. Harvests have ranged from 8 million to 54 million pounds, peaking approximately every 10 years.
And the weather? It’s might be rough. The National Weather Service has predicted a series of storm fronts to arrive on our shores starting this evening and continuing. If you are so inclined, you might offer a prayer for their continued success and safety at sea.
While we cannot control the weather or the crab population, the community, as a whole, can support our local fishermen by giving them a hearty ‘thank you!” – and eat lots of crab!