COOS BAY Dungeness crabs are already mature and ready for the season opener on Dec. 1, said Nick Furman of the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission Tuesday.

From a quality standpoint, said Furman, the season has all the earmarks of being a good one.

He said tests conducted by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) early this month indicated the crabs are in excellent shape and ready to harvest. The crabs sampled off Brookings, Coos Bay, Newport and Astoria all met or exceeded the minimum standards for meat fill used by state fishery managers to determine the opening date for the season.

Apparently, said Furman, this past summers favorable ocean conditions were good for Dungeness crab stocks as well as the salmon runs which for some, were near record.

Oregon law allows crabbers to put their pots in the ocean 64 hours before the season opens. Furman said the gear-setting process will begin at 8 a.m. Nov. 28, when fishermen get their gear baited, set and in position in advance of the official opening.

He said that assumes, however, negotiations on the starting price go smoothly. Fishermen are then required to submit to a formal hold inspection conducted by ODFW and the Oregon State Police on Nov. 30, to confirm they have not taken crabs in yet.

Furman said last seasons 7.3 million pound harvest was sub-average in the number of pounds landed, but the fifth best season on record in dollars.

The fishery was worth $15 million to participating crabbers, which Furman credited to a strong market and steady demand. The average value of the crab landed was a record boat price of $2.12 a pound.

It is too early to determine how this season will shape up in comparison, said Furman.