The Dec. 1 commercial Dungeness crab season is delayed until at least Dec. 16 for the entire Oregon coast as testing shows crabs are too low in meat yield. The ocean commercial Dungeness crab season in Oregon, targeted to open Dec. 1, can be delayed to ensure a high-quality product for consumers and to avoid wasting the resource. Crab quality testing in early November showed a number of the test areas did not meet the criteria for a Dec. 1 opening. The delayed opening will allow crabs to fill with more meat.
A second round of crab quality testing will occur after Thanksgiving and results will be used to determine if the season should open Dec. 16, be further delayed, or be split into areas with different opening dates. In partnership with the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission and the commercial Dungeness crab industry, ODFW tests crabs out of Oregon’s six major crabbing ports. Weekly season opening updates are posted online until the decision to open the season is made.
Crabs were also tested for domoic acid along the entire coast, and all samples were found to be safe for human consumption. However, due to elevated levels of domoic acid detected in razor clams in some areas, testing in Dungeness crabs will continue regularly north of Cape Perpetua. In conjunction with the delayed ocean commercial season, commercial harvest of Dungeness crab in Oregon bays that are currently open will close at 12:01 a.m. Dec. 1 but may reopen if the ocean commercial fishery opens in December.
Recreational Dungeness crab harvest in the ocean off Oregon opens Dec. 1 as scheduled in all areas. Recreational crab harvesting is currently open coastwide in bays and estuaries, and on beaches, docks, piers, and jetties. Recreational crabbers should always call the Shellfish Hotline (800-448-2474) or visit the ODA Recreational Shellfish Biotoxin Closures webpage before crabbing.
Commercial Dungeness crab is Oregon’s most valuable fishery. The 2019 season opening was delayed to Dec. 31 and still brought in the second highest ex-vessel value ever ($72.7 million) with just under 20 million pounds landed, about 12 percent above the 10-year average.
Oregon, California and Washington coordinate Dungeness crab quality testing and the commercial season opening dates. California and Washington also are delaying their commercial seasons to at least Dec. 16.