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North Coast crab fishermen headed back to work as price dispute ends

The Bodega Bay crab fleet.

JOHN BURGESS/ PD
Published: Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 1:48 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 1:48 p.m.

North Coast fishermen are heading back out to sea Wednesday to resume crab fishing after buyers agreed to increase the price to $3 a pound.

Fresh local crab should be back in stores by Thursday, said Bodega Bay fisherman Chris Lawson.

It is the same price that fishermen were getting when the season opened Nov. 15 on the Central Coast, from Morro Bay to the Gualala River.

Fishermen in Bodega Bay, San Francisco and Half Moon Bay stopped fishing Dec. 2 after the price dropped to $2.50 a pound.

Wise said prices slid because there was an overabundance of crab on the market following Thanksgiving, after which demand falls off until Christmas and New Year.

But a delay in the crab season north of the Gualala River until after Jan. 1, which was designed to give those crab more time to mature, strengthened the fishermen's bargaining position.

“Our crabs here are the only crabs on the West Coast for the holidays,” Lawson said.

The agreement ensures there will be fresh local crab for Christmas and New Year's. The majority of crabs are caught within the first few weeks of the season.

“We have two more weeks and this area will be a done deal,” Lawson said. “Depending on how much is around, on the average you catch half the season in the first few weeks.”

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