Despite a late start to the season, commercial fishermen brought slightly more Dungeness crab to the Crescent City Harbor than in previous years, according to numbers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
While this makes for increased revenue at the harbor, which collects 2 cents for every pound brought to its docks, Rick Shepherd, president of the Del Norte Fisherman’s Marketing Association, said commercial crabbers were paid less than last year.
“I think one of the problems that I witnessed was there was a larger number of boats that participated here and so I think the actual amount of crab each boat caught was less,” he said. “I thought I was going to catch more crab this year and I didn’t because (it) was divided up amongst more boats.”
As of May 18, 2018, fishermen brought 6,738,978 pounds of crab, valued at more than $19.5 million, to Crescent City, according to CDFW. Regionally, 13,355,888 pounds of crab, valued at roughly $38.4 million, were brought into Northern California ports.
Statewide, fishermen landed 18,301,665 pounds of crab during the 2017-18 season, valued at $59,204,252, according to CDFW.
This year’s Dungeness crab season was delayed to Jan. 15 due to quality test results in November and December. Jan. 15 is the latest the California Department of Fish and Wildlife can delay the crab season due to quality.
Even after the 2017-18 season officially started in Crescent City, crabbers still held off fishing because the crab quality was still in question and seafood buyers wanted more testing before offering a price.
At the close of the 2016-17 season last year, crabbers brought 6,421,109 pounds valued at about $19.5 million to Crescent City, according to CDFW. Regionally, crabbers landed 11,410,366 pounds of crab valued at about $35.1 million during the 2016-17 season. Statewide, 22,650,295 pounds of crab was brought in during the 2016-17 season, according to CDFW.
The 2016-17 season started on Dec. 1, 2016 in Crescent City.
According to the Crescent City Harbor District, the roughly 6.7 million pounds of crab as well as any other catch that has been brought in has generated $143,089.66 in revenue. The harbor collected $122,213.97 in poundage fees following the 2016-17 season.
“We had an exceptional (crab) season this year,” said harbor Commissioner Jim Ramsey during a discussion of the port’s budget on Thursday. “We had boats coming in from all over once the season opened up that we didn’t have before.”
Harbormaster Charlie Helms noted fees charged per pound per type of seafood that’s landed at Crescent City hasn’t changed. There was more volume, he said.
“The reason the gross revenue is higher is because there was more crab landed and more seafood in general landed,” Helms said.
At Thursday’s meeting, Helms said because of a closure to crab fishing in Oregon, the Crescent City Harbor was slammed, but he wouldn’t want to count on that revenue.
Shepherd noted even though more fishermen were harvesting crab out of Crescent City this year, the price they received for their catch was less than last year.
This year, fishermen received $2.75 per pound for their catch when the season started, Shepherd said. Last year the starting price was $2.95 and at first delivery fishermen received $3 for their catch, he said.
“With the influx of boats and not quite the amount of poundage we thought we would catch I don’t think it’s that big of a season for most of the boats,” he said. “It’s not a bad season, (but) it wasn’t a big boom year.”
Reach Jessica Cejnar at email@example.com .