Commercial Dungeness Crab Fishery Begins Feb. 1 North of Cape Falcon, Ore.

A crab hopper. File photo via Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) has announced the Feb. 1 opener of a commercial Dungeness crab fishing period from Cape Falcon to Klipsan Beach, Wash.

Officials said a fourth round of pre-season testing showed that male crabs in this area were not quite ready for a January opening. The additional time is expected to allow crab to continue to fill with meat before harvest, they said.

Oregon’s ocean commercial Dungeness crab season, targeted to open Dec. 1, can be delayed or partially opened so consumers get a high-quality product and crabs aren’t wasted.

This year’s season was partially opened (from Cape Foulweather to the California border) on Dec. 16, after a delay due to low meat yield in areas north of Cape Foulweather. Commercial crabbing began Dec. 31 from Cape Foulweather to Cape Falcon, after meat yield met criteria.

State biologists noted that ocean conditions affecting molt timing, food availability and quality, and the number of crabs competing for food could all affect meat yield.

OFFW tests crabs out of Oregon’s six major crabbing ports in partnership with the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission, Oregon Department of Agriculture, and the commercial Dungeness crab industry.

Weekly season opening updates are to be posted online until the decision to fully open the season is made.

Oregon, California and Washington coordinate Dungeness crab quality testing and the commercial season opening dates.