Dungeness crab in Crescent City | Photo: Jessica Cejnar

Humboldt and Del Norte seafood lovers will finally have access to local Dungeness crab starting as early as next weekend, after negotiations between California crab fleets and processors were settled on Friday. 

Harrison Ibach, president of the Humboldt Fishermen’s Market Association, told the Outpost Saturday that processors and fishermen settled on a price of $2.75 per pound for Dungeness crab. Fishermen had initially asked for $3.25 per pound, but processors say that the market has been severely impacted by the closure of restaurants due to COVID-19.  Though the price is lower than what he’d hoped for, Ibach said he is just glad that the process is over and that the season can finally begin.

“We’re looking forward to a safe and orderly start to the season,” Ibach said, adding that the fishermen’s associations have a “gentlemen’s agreement” to start crabbing at roughly the same time. This discourages fishermen from gathering more than their fair share of crab, while also discouraging them from heading out in dangerous weather conditions to get an early start, he said. 

Fishermen in the Bay Area will start setting pots on Monday and our local fisherman should start midweek, Ibach said, making crabs available to consumers by the weekend or early next week.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife opened the commercial Dungeness crab season on Dec. 23, much later than its usual start. The season was delayed in central California to protect whales from becoming entangled in the crabbing gear, and was delayed in the northern management zone — which includes Humboldt and Del Norte Counties— due to  low weight in the meat quality tests.  

Based on the poor quality meat tests from November, Ibach said he does not expect a large volume of crabs this year. Combined with the delay in the season and the low price, this could be bad news for the fishermen, many of whom rely on the revenue from crab season. But Ibach said he is trying to stay positive. 

“I think everyone is looking forward to getting started and we have high hope that maybe we’ll have a decent season,” he said.