Commercial crabbing start pushed in 2024


December 28, 2023

From the Chinook Observer

The commercial crabbing season around the mouth of the Columbia River will begin either Jan. 15 or Feb. 1 after sampling found that local crab are slow to put on meat.

A Dec. 20 meeting of Washington, Oregon and California Tri-State policy representatives did have some good news for local seafood processors and workers, in that “Vessels that participate in the Dungeness crab fishery south of Cape Falcon, Oregon may only deliver into the ports of Ilwaco and Chinook until further notice.” Cape Falcon is between Cannon Beach and Manzanita, Oregon.

The lengthy delay in harvesting between Klipsan Beach and Cape Falcon is because “shell condition and meat recovery within the Long Beach and Astoria Test Areas do not currently meet the minimum meat recovery criteria as defined in the Tri-State Dungeness Crab Pre-Season Testing Protocols (23% north of Cascade Head and 24% south of Cascade Head).” Cascade Head is located just north of Lincoln City, Oregon.

North along the Washington coast, the Quinault Indian Nation crab fishery commenced Dec. 11. Crabbing will open from Cape Falcon to Cape Foulweather (about midway between Lincoln City and Newport, Oregon) on Dec. 31.

Samples gathered Dec. 17 found south Pacific County crab had 20.7% recoverable meat, up from 19.4% meat on Nov. 28. Clatsop County crab tested at 22.9%, just shy of the mandatory minimum meat recovery criteria of 23% north of Cascade Head, and up from 21.1% on Nov. 29.

Sampled crab in the prime harvest area between Klipsan and the Columbia also continue to be on the soft side, with only about one-third in the marketable shell grades of 1A and 1B, about the same as in late November.

Washington crabbers and others who deliver to Washington ports face an added complication this year. A new electronic monitoring requirement goes into effect on Jan 1, 2024. This system automatically determines a vessel’s position, records individual pot retrieval via a hydraulic pressure readings, and transmits this information for use by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission and to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for management and enforcement.


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