Washington's 2013 commercial Dungeness crab haul should outdo last year's harvest, but the Department of Fish and Wildlife's lead coastal shellfish biologist says the season won't set any records.
"It's going to be pretty good, but I don't think it's going to be gangbusters," Dan Ayres says.
The season opening was delayed along the west coast while fishery managers waited for the crabs to mature. The repeated postponements frustrated retailers and restaurateurs who are accustomed to offering freshly-caught Dungeness for the holidays. "It's taken millions out of the economy at Christmas time," the owner of The Crab Pot in Lincoln City,. Ore. last month told The Oregonian. "Talk about a lump of coal in your stocking."
Washington opened a short stretch of coastline on Dec. 31, two weeks later than the harvest started in 2011. The remaining crabbing grounds running north to the Canadian border will open on Jan. 24.
The consolation for the wait is the quality of the crab, Ayres says. According to tribal fishermen, who have already started harvesting, the Dungeness are in "pretty good shape" this year.