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Commercial Dungeness Boats Given the OK Through Rest of Oregon Coast, South Washington

Published 1/05/24 at 5:25 p.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Commercial Dungeness Boats Given the OK Through Rest of Oregon Coast, South Washington

(Newport, Oregon) – Oregon officials have opened up the rest of this coastline and part of Washington coast to commercial Dungeness crab fishing, with the area from Cape Falcon to Klipsan Beach (Ocean Park, Washington) given the green light for February 1. (Near Cannon Beach, Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

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The most recent round of testing showed male crabs in the area were not quite ready for the planned opening in January. Moving the opener to February gives the Oregon coast crustaceans some time to fill with meat before the mass harvest begins.

In recent weeks, the area from Cape Foulweather (Depoe Bay) to near Manzanita was given the go for commercial crabbing, while the area from the south Oregon coast border to Cape Foulweather opened up a couple of weeks later than hoped for.

These large-scale delays in the Dungeness fishery have become more common, putting greater financial hardship on crabbers on the West Coast.

Satellite from National Weather Service showing crabbing fleet at night

“Targeted to open Dec. 1, Oregon’s ocean commercial Dungeness crab season can be delayed or partially opened so consumers get a high-quality product and crabs are not wasted,” said Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW).

The opening of Cape Foulweather to the California border on December 16 was also due to low meat yield, ODFW said.

“Once meat yield met criteria, commercial crabbing began Dec. 31 from Cape Foulweather to Cape Falcon,” the agency said.

A variety of elements can influence meat quality in these waters, and they can differ greatly between areas. Biotoxins have also typically created delays in the commercial season in recent years. Local crab are affected by food availability in their area as well as its quality, while the number of crabs competing for food also affects things like molt timing.

This is why the season has increasingly become segmented into partial openings in recent years.

“ODFW tests crabs out of Oregon’s six major crabbing ports in partnership with the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission, Oregon Department of Agriculture, and the commercial Dungeness crab industry,” ODFW said.

This sees major ports like Brookings, Coos Bay, Bandon, Newport, Garibaldi and Astoria now buzzing with more activity.

“During the 2022-23 season, the commercial Dungeness crab season was delayed and opened in stages due to low meat yield biotoxin levels above the safety threshold,” ODFW said. “Commercial fishermen landed over 31.5 million pounds of crab at an ex-vessel value of $85 million.”

Recreational crabbing in bays, estuaries, docks, piers and jetties is open all along the region. Recreational crabbers should always call the Shellfish Hotline (800-448-2474) or visit the ODA Recreational Shellfish Biotoxin Closures webpage before crabbing.

Also recently in the news: a group of crabbers had to be rescued from Tillamook Bay after their boat motor gave out. Six Rescued from Stranded Crabbing Boat on N. Oregon Coast's Tillamook Bay - The boat lost power while crabbing on Friday night.

More of N. Oregon Coast's Wreck of Peter Iredale Showing Than Ever Before: Astoria / Warrenton Surprise. Big tides and crazed waves have scoured out a lot of sand at Fort Stevens State Park and now the Wreck of the Peter Iredale is in a fairly unprecedented state.

You can see the entire length of the Wreck of the Peter Iredale.

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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