Stacked and ready to go

December 11, 2012 10:33 pm

Curry Coastal Pilot/ Jef Hatch Curry County commercial fishermen have stacked thousands of prepared crab pots at the Port of Brookings Harbor in anticipation of the start of the crab season, now set for Dec. 31. The Pilot/Jef Hatch
Curry Coastal Pilot/ Jef Hatch Curry County commercial fishermen have stacked thousands of prepared crab pots at the Port of Brookings Harbor in anticipation of the start of the crab season, now set for Dec. 31. The Pilot/Jef Hatch
With crab off the Southern Oregon Coast still on the lean side, the local ocean commercial Dungeness crab season has been delayed again ---— to the end of the year.

That means no locally-caught crab for Christmas — but Brookings-Harbor fishermen are not bothered by it. 

“We’re not upset about the delay,” said Bernie Lindley, president of the Brookings Fishermen’s Marketing Association. “It’s important for us to delay. It will be just like picking an apple before it’s ready. You’re going to take a bite out of and throw it away. It’s no good. But if you wait, it will turn ripe.”

According the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the season has been delayed until 12:01 a.m. Dec. 31 to allow crab quality to improve; “coast-wide crab quality testing showed some test areas did not meet minimum preseason test criteria.”

“Some people might be under the impression that delaying might be an economic hardship for fishermen,” Lindley said. “The thing is, regardless of that, we still have to wait until the crab are going to be commercially viable.”

Last year, the crab season alone brought $7.2 million dollars into the Brookings-Harbor economy, Lindley said. As of Monday, fish season totals are at $11.4 million.

While fishermen anxiously wait, thousands of crab pots are stacked and ready to go at the Port of Brookings Harbor. 

“Some guys are behind in preparation. This gives them a little breathing room,” Lindley said. “But the rest of us, what we mostly do is stand around the parking lot and see who can be the most clever.

“The crab aren’t going anywhere. They’re not going to die of old age before we harvest them. We want to maximize the value of these. … If at all possible, we want to bring another $7 million dollars into the local economy.”

While commercial crab fishing is delayed, recreational crab fishing in the ocean and Oregon’s bays will remain open, according to the Department of Fish and Wildlife.