Crabbers working to resolve price dispute

All packed up but nowhere to go is how many of the Ilwaco crabbing fleet found themselves in December as local crab were slow to fatten and storms interfered with testing protocols.

ILWACO — Dungeness crab meat sampling was completed in Long Beach Peninsula waters Friday, with results expected Saturday, Dec. 29. If test results meet or exceed the 23 percent meat threshold, the commercial season will open on Jan. 4. If local crab are still under 23 percent, the season opening will be delayed until Jan. 15.

News of this decision came late Friday afternoon in an industry notice from Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

This is the relevant portion of the WDFW notice:

WDFW was able to complete a third meat recovery test in the Long Beach area according to Tri-State testing protocols, which included a 24-hour soak at all depths. However, due to continued difficult ocean conditions, the final meat recovery results will not be available until tomorrow, Saturday, December 29. The Tri-State Committee has agreed to proceed with the season opening as intended with a one-day shift from the dates in our December 21 announcement recognizing the delay in meat recovery results.

We will confirm which of the two following scenarios will be in place as soon as the test results are available tomorrow.

If the results of the test show that crab meet the 23 percent meat recovery, the season will open in the area between Klipsan Beach, Washington and Cape Arago, Oregon at 9:00 am January 4, 2019, with a 73-hour gear set beginning at 8:00 am on January 1, 2019. Hold inspections will be conducted beginning at noon January 3, 2019.

If the results of the test show that crab do not meet the 23 percent meat recovery, the season opening will be delayed in the area between Klipsan Beach, Washington and Cape Blanco, Oregon until 9:00 am January 15, with a 73-hour gear set beginning at 8:00 am on January 12, 2019. Hold inspections will be conducted beginning at noon January 11, 2019.

Klipsan area was close on Dec. 4

Pre-Season Testing Protocols specify that after the first round of testing, if any area does not meet the minimum meat recovery criteria (23 percent north of Cascade Head and 25 percent south of Cascade Head) a delay is required and additional testing is required before a season opening date can be confirmed.

Test meat recovery results off the Long Beach Peninsula increased from 20.9 percent on Oct. 23 to 22 percent on Nov. 9. Tests on Dec. 4 found 22.8 percent meat in Long Beach Peninsula crab, just shy of the required level. Crab to the immediate north and south along the coast have been above 23 percent since the early-December round of testing.

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