HALF MOON BAY (CBS 5 / KCBS / AP) ― Even though this year’s Dungeness crab catch is looking strong, many crabbers are waiting a little longer before filling their boats up to grab their share this year.
While Sunday marked the official opening to the Dungeness season off California’s central coast, fishermen said the crustaceans need days or even weeks more to mature and fatten up.
Fishermen said the seafloor is crawling with adult male crab this season, following poor catches the past couple years.
Still, fishermen want crabs with 25-percent of the body weight made up of meat and said this year’s catch needs more time to reach that goal. Most boats are staying in port for now while further tests of the quality are done.
KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:
“This isn’t a stall tactic by the local boats to hold up the season,” said Chris Lawson, president of the Fishermen’s Marketing Association of Bodega Bay. “We just don’t want to shoot ourselves in the foot by catching crabs that aren’t ready.”
“We don’t want people coming down and buying a bunch of half-full crab,” reasoned Duncan McClain, president of the Half Moon Bay Fisherman’s Marketing Association. “We want to make sure that they get what they’re here for.”
Fishermen believe the abundance of crabs has meant more competition for food, so the crustaceans are eating less and growing at a slower pace. Once they fatten up, the season should be the best in years.
“It’s just a matter of there wasn’t enough feed for the volume of crabs. Because it looks like it’s going to be a fairly decent crab year so they’re just taking a little longer than normal to fill out,” said McCain, who hoped for a catch that would please Bay Area foodies.
The looming holiday season worried him and others.
“We’re really focusing on the outlook for Thanksgiving. You know, you’ve got the ones that want it today but more importantly, they want their holiday and they don’t want it ruined. So whether we can use local crabs to fill those orders or whether we have to outsource, one way or the other the customer has to be served,” he said.
The crab season runs through June 30, so some fishermen said they can wait days or even a few weeks to make sure the catch is ready for the market.
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