Fisheries & Fish Industry

Price War Halts Crab Fishing From Half Moon Bay to Canada

Price War Halts Crab Fishing From Half Moon Bay to Canada

Dungeness crab fishers from the Bay Area all the way to Canada are on strike — and those who aren’t yet will join them Friday night — after wholesale buyers sought to lower the purchase price.

For some, the strike started Wednesday after buyers offered to pay $2.75 a pound for the tasty crustacean. Crabbers whose seasons had already opened had negotiated a price of $3 per pound.

The strike does not affect commercial crabbers south of Sonoma County’s Bodega Bay, where customers have been snapping up the holiday dinner table staple since November.

But prices were not set in all fisheries because the West Coast commercial dungeness crab season opened in phases this year due to elevated domoic acid levels.

“Crab and champagne is the cat’s meow,” said Gary Westendorf, excited to ring in the new year with fresh dungeness crab.

But families who stop by Pillar Point Harbor won’t be so lucky. The Half Moon Bay Seafood Marketing Association has voted to stand in solidarity with the crab fishing strike along the North Coast

Peninsula fishermen tied up their boats on Friday to show support for their colleagues. 

“I will stand with the other fisherman,” said Tony Urie. 

Urie sold his catch of the day for $3 a pound. But until all California crabbers are able to earn the same amount, he and other fishermen in Half Moon Bay and now even San Francisco plan to strike. 

“It’s not right,” said fisherman Barry Diy. “$2.75 just isn’t right.

Many say $2.75 is not enough to cover the cost and risk associated with crab fishing.

On Friday, Half Moon Bay restaurant owners stocked up on as much crab as they could, ahead of the strike’s start at 12 a.m. Saturday.

“Without the crab season, there is no one out here,” said Albert Dunne, who owns Half Moon Bay’s popular Princeton Seafood Company. 

Dunne said he views the supply of dungeness crabs as essential to his and other nearby restaurants’ success.

“We gotta have it,” he stressed. “It helps the restaurants. … It’s what brings people into the harbor.”

Lorne Edwards, president of the Bodega Bay Fisherman’s Marketing Association, said he expects the strike to continue at least through New Year’s Day. There is no timeline yet for when it may end.

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