Oregon delays start of Dungeness crab season by more than 2 weeks

Dungeness crab (File/SBG)

NEWPORT, Ore. – The opening of commercial Dungeness crab season has been delayed more than two weeks until December 16.

The season traditionally opens December 1.

Commercial Dungeness crab is Oregon’s highest value fishery.

"Last year’s season opening was also delayed but still brought in the highest ex-vessel value ever ($62.7 million) with 20.4 million pounds landed, about 22 percent above the 10-year average," the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlifre said in a statement.

Recreational harvest of Dungeness crab in the ocean off Oregon will open Dec. 1 as scheduled in areas not subject to Oregon Department of Agriculture health advisories. Elevated levels of domoic acid have forced the closure of portions of the coast to crabbing in bays and estuaries.

As for the commercial season, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said Thursday that tests show crabs are too low in meat for the season to open.

"The ocean commercial Dungeness crab season in Oregon is targeted to open Dec. 1, but can be delayed to ensure a high-quality product to consumers and avoid wastage of the resource," the agency said. "Crab quality testing in early November showed that none of the test areas met the criteria for a Dec. 1 opening. The delayed opening will allow for crabs to fill with more meat."

Another round of tests will happen in late November or early December.

The results could confirm a December 16 open; further delay the season; or split the state by regions with different opening dates.

If crab is part of your family's holiday tradition, crab sold in markets remains safe, the state says.

And recreational crabbing from beaches, docks, piers and jetties remains opening along portions of the Oregon Coast.

Elevated levels of domoic acid have closed commercial and recreational crabbing from Cape Foulweather north of Newport south to Tahkenitch Creek near Reedsport; and from north jetty of Coos Bay to the California border.

"Crab harvesting outside of these areas remains open in bays and estuaries, and on beaches, docks, piers, and jetties," the state said in a season.

Commercial harvesting of Dungeness crab in Oregon bays that remain open will close at 12:01 a.m. Dec. 1, ODFW said. The harvest may reopen when the ocean commercial fishery opens in December.

Recreational harvest of Dungeness crab in the ocean off Oregon will open Dec. 1 as scheduled in areas where there are no health advisories.

For more information on ODA health closures, call ODA’s shellfish safety information hotline at (800) 448-2474 or visit the ODA shellfish closures web page.

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