Crab season opening delayed until at least Dec. 15

Crab pots will continue to stack up at local ports for now, waiting for crab meat percentages to improve.

ILWACO — In an expected move, the opening of commercial Dungeness crab season has been delayed through Dec. 15 at least.

Tri-State policy representatives from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife on Nov. 13 agreed to delay the opening of the 2018-19 Coastal Dungeness crab fishery from Point Arena, California north to the U.S./Canada border through Dec. 15 at the earliest, because all test areas do not currently meet the minimum meat-recovery criteria.

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. Off Westport, the percentages were 19.7 on Oct. 24 and 22.0 on Nov. 9. The Nov. 6 result off Clatsop County was 23.5 percent. The lowest-meat areas are southern Oregon and Northern California. Around Port Orford, for instance, the Nov. 6 test found 16.1 percent meat recovery,

A second round of both meat recovery and domoic acid testing is scheduled to be conducted after Thanksgiving. WDFW will provide additional information regarding the season opening as soon as possible following the completion of the upcoming tests.

Domoic acid tests from crab collected in each Washington test area are not yet available. Those results will be posted in the next few days at: http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/commercial/crab/coastal/letters_notices.html under “General Information.”

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