Pacific County crab slow to put on meat this year

Dungeness crab are a crucially important commodity on the Washington and Oregon coast.

ILWACO — With Dungeness crab in some management areas including Long Beach and Astoria still lacking enough meat, fishery managers on Dec. 6 decided to delay opening the commercial season until at least Dec. 31 from Point Arena, California to the U.S.-Canada border.

The Tri-State Dungeness Crab Pre-Season Testing Protocols specify that if test results show that any area does not meet the minimum meat recovery criteria (23% north of Cascade Head and 25% south of Cascade Head), a delay and additional testing are required before a season opening date can be confirmed.

Tests determined average meat recovery off the Long Beach Peninsula was 21.8% on Dec. 3, a slow improvement from 20.4% on Nov. 6 and 19.1% on Oct. 23. Crab in Clatsop County waters tested at 20.4% meat on Dec. 3, up from 20.3% on Nov. 6.

In addition, several areas south of Cascade Head came up short of 25% in early-December tests.

A third round of meat recovery testing will be conducted sometime in mid–December, targeting completion by Dec. 20. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said it will provide additional information regarding the season opening as soon as possible following the completion of the upcoming tests.

Quinault Indian Nation fishery managers said Dec. 6 that they planned to open the Quinault coastal Dungeness crab fishery on Sunday, Dec. 8. The Quinaults are not governed by Tri-state protocols.

Crab in the Westport management area were tested at 23.8% meat on Dec. 2, but no crabbing is allowed outside tribal areas until all areas reach required minimum percentages.

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