Commercial crab season set to begin


The crab pots were prepared on Pier 45 Tuesday night. Early Wednesday morning, they'll be on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean just off the Golden Gate. Fisherman James Smith, who's been doing this for 30 years and hopes his annual six-figure investment will pay off. So far it's been smooth sailing after hearing he'll get $3 a pound for his haul.

"Yeah, $3. It's good. It's probably the first time I remember we got our asking price," said Smith.

Last year, fishermen got $2.25 a pound, but after almost two weeks of haggling, they missed the popular Thanksgiving holiday. This year's higher rate means consumers will pay in the range of $7 to $7.50 a pound, which is close to Concord resident Sharon Burt's limit.

"I'm sure I wouldn't pay more than $7 a pound, unless it had to be really something special," said Burt.

"Yeah that's good. That's a good low price. We've got some of the best crab here," said San Francisco resident Michael Stewart.

One factor in this year's higher price is fewer crabs.

"We're expecting to see less crab than last year. Crab tend to be cyclical in production and so it's not unexpected we'd be seeing less than last year and the year before," said Zeke Grader from the Pacific Federation of Fishermen's Association.

Tuesday night a big ship with thousands of pots was heading out. This is the last season before trap limits go into effect. And at Alioto's the crab from Oregon is about to overwhelmed with crab from the Bay Area.

"Well of course it's good because we're going to get all the Thanksgiving business, which we haven't had in probably two or three years," said Richard Alioto from Alioto's Restaurant.

On Tuesday night the sea lions feasted at Fisherman's Wharf. Wednesday, fishermen hope it's their turn.

"Fishing's fishing and there's no guarantee," said Smith.

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