"We don't expect to see a lot of production," said Zeke Grader of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Association. "Preliminarily, it looks like it's going to be a down year."
About 1 million to 1.5 million pounds of crab are expected to be plucked from the Bodega Bay, San Francisco Bay and Half Moon Bay waters between Sunday and June 15, the close of the season, Grader said.
He said the best seasons produce up to 7 million pounds of crab, while in one of the worst seasons, the Bay Area produced just 100,000 pounds.
Crabs are produced on a four- to seven-year cycle, meaning that depending on potential affects in the future of two recent oil spills into the San Francisco Bay, crabs should be produced in greater quantities again.
It's hard to tell what affects the 2007 Cosco Busan oil spill and another, smaller one at the end of October will have on crabs. Grader said the juvenile crabs would be most affected by the oil, and it will take a few years for them to mature.
"I suspect we'll be looking at a couple years before we know the impacts of the oil spills," he said.
All the crabs are tested to ensure they are safe to eat, he said. The testing takes place before the crab season opens.