Oregon delays start of commercial Dungeness crab along the entire coast

by News Staff KCBY Coos Bay Oregon

NEWPORT, Ore. – The state of Oregon will delay the opening of the commercial Dungeness crab season along the entire Oregon Coast after tests found the crabs have not yet developed enough meat.

Dungeness crab is Oregon’s most valuable commercial fishery. The 2018-2019 season was delayed but still brought in $66.7 million on 18.7 million pounds of crab. That is just above the 10-year average.

“The target opening of the ocean commercial Dungeness crab season in Oregon is Dec. 1, but can be delayed to ensure a high-quality product to consumers and avoid wastage of the resource,” according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. “Crab quality testing in early November showed that none of the test areas met the meat yield criteria for a Dec. 1 opening. The delayed opening will allow crabs to fill with more meat.”

The season will now open Dec. 16.

A second round of tests will be conducted later this month or in early December.

 “The results will be used to determine if the season should open Dec. 16, be further delayed, or be split into areas with different opening dates,” according to ODFW.

Crabs were also tested for domoic acid.

“All samples were found to be safe for human consumption,” according to ODFW. “However, due to elevated levels of domoic acid detected in razor clams in some areas, testing in Dungeness crab will continue regularly south of Heceta Head.”

The decision will not affect recreational crabbing, which opens off the coast of Oregon on December 1.

“Recreational crab harvesting is currently open coastwide in bays and estuaries, and on beaches, docks, piers, and jetties,” according to ODFW.

The agency said recreational crabbers should always call the Shellfish Hotline (800-448-2474) or visit the Recreational Shellfish page for closures before crabbing.