Oregon landings improve ,fill gap caused by California closures
Oregon Dungeness crabbers were treated to a larger harvest this season ,but ex-vessel prices were held in check as production volumes climbed above 10 million pounds.Warmer waters ,an algae bloom and its associated toxin ,domoic acid ,hampered the 2015 harvest .
Known as the blob , a mass of warm water enroached on fishing areas near the coast .Levels of domoic acid shot up to 65 parts per million ,which is more than twice the acceptable level ,as prescribed by the Food and Drug Administration .The 2016 Oregon season ,which typically opens on December 1 ,was delayed for about a month ,while the California season was closed until March 29.
Dungeness crab is become more and more popular in restaurants and in the catering industry .
Losses to the California harvest sector of the industry have been pegged at more than $48 million ,according to a letter from Gov.Edmund Brown Jr., who petitioned for disaster relief funds in February of this year .Other estimates that include distributors and restaurants put losses at around $70 million .
In Oregon , Hugh Link ,executive director with the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission in Coos Bay ,says the 2016 will go down as an improvement over 2015.
“We did fairly well ” , says Link .”We did around 8 million pounds last year , and this year we hit 14 million “.
California ´s shortage in production left Oregon and Washington fleets to fill hungry markets.Buyers funneling crab into live Asian markets – a perennial ex-vessel price driver -arrived in force to drive dockside offers to a high of $4.50 per pound .Those peak prices in May were down considerably from last year when the same buyers drove prices upward of $ 7 per pound.The relatively lower spike in live Dungeness prices has been attributed to this this year´s increased supplies .Still ,average ex-vessel prices for the season shook out to $3.60 per pound ,Link says.
“That gives us about $50 million in revenues ,which is back up there where we´ve been in previous years ” , he says.