Being a crab fisherman is no easy task. It's a brutal schedule of danger, sleepless nights and worried families - one that will begin this month as soon as a price is set and the weather settles.
We won't be able to watch the drama unfold - a la the "Deadliest Catch" TV show - as crabbers leave the ports of the Southern Oregon Coast and risk their lives at sea. Yet, they still deserve strong community support.
Because of Oregon's, Washington's and California's crabbers, we and the rest of the world will have delicious seafood for the new year, 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 2009-10 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 going to be rough. Meteorologist have predicted an onslaught this winter of La Nina-fueled storms for the Oregon Coast.
While we cannot control the weather or the crab population, the community, as a whole, can support our local fishermen by observing what regulatory agencies do, and by commenting on any rules and regulations that have a potentially negative impact on the industry.
Also, if you are so inclined, you can say a prayer for our fishermen's continued success and safety at sea.
And eat lots of crab!