The commercial Dungeness crab season will be delayed until at least Dec. 16 along the entire Oregon Coast, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said Wednesday.
The season traditionally opens December 1.
The state said “testing shows crabs are too low in meat yield.”
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. Crab quality testing in early November showed that the majority of test areas did not meet the criteria for a Dec. 1 opening. The delayed opening will allow for crab to fill with more meat.
“Commercial Dungeness crab is Oregon’s most valuable fishery,” the state said. “Last year’s season opening was also delayed but still brought in the highest ex-vessel value ever ($74 million) with 23.1 million pounds landed, about 31 percent above the 10-year average.”
The state will conduct another round of tests in late November or early December.
“The results will be used to determine if the season should open Dec. 16, be further delayed, or be split into areas with different opening dates,” the state said in a statement.
The state also announced that commercial crab harvest in Oregon bays will close at 12:01 a.m. on December 1. That harvest could reopen along with the ocean commercial fishery, the state said.
Recreational harvest of Dungeness crab in the ocean off Oregon will open as scheduled December 1, except in areas subject to Oregon Department of Agriculture health advisories.
Due to elevated levels of domoic acid, crab closures are currently in effect from Cape Blanco to the California border. This closure applies to both recreationally and commercially harvested crab from bays and estuaries, and on beaches, docks, piers, and jetties. Recreational crab harvesting outside of these areas remains open in bays and estuaries, and on beaches, docks, piers, and jetties.
You can find current shellfish closures by calling (800) 448-2474 or visiting the ODA shellfish closures web page.
The state added that “crab and shellfish products sold in retail markets and restaurants remain safe for consumers.”