Commercial crab season in Bay Area delayed by whales

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. (KGO) -- Commercial crab fishermen have faced challenges in recent years. A toxin called demoic acid and a large pool of ocean water, dubbed "the Blob," caused delays in opening the season. It's happening again this year, although it appears the delay won't imperil Dungeness crab for our Thanksgiving dinners.

It's time for Half Moon Bay fisherman Jim Anderson to start checking his gear before heading out to sea. He has been harvesting crabs since high school.

The commercial season traditionally starts in a week, but will be pushed back one week to protect blue and humpback whales as they start migrating south.

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"We did a flyover and we found four of them but they were all outside of 100 fathoms so they're all outside of where we're throwing the gear," Anderson said.

Still, to prevent the whales from getting entangled in crab lines, the season won't begin until Nov. 22, the weekend before Thanksgiving.

"We hope the migration of the humpback whales has begun and the whales clear out of this area because a lot of pots go down when commercial season opens," said sport fisherman Doug Laughlin.

The sport season for crab started last Saturday and fishermen are having no problem meeting their limit of 10. And they tell us they're solid with meat, weighing 1.5 to 2.5 pounds.

The captain of the boat Fishing Luhrs is Mike Giraudo.

"Everybody's your best friend when you have Dungeness crab," Giraduo said with a chuckle.
What hasn't been set yet is the price for this season's crab catch. Several factors will come into play, including competition among fishermen.

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"We don't know how many boats are going to come down here versus stay somewhere else and fish another part of the state," said fisherman Jim Anderson.

Another concern is the limited number of days between the start of the season and Thanksgiving. There are only three working days for buyers and processors, so that may limit the availability of crab to consumers, unless they buy right off a boat.

Still, die-hard San Franciscans want crab and turkey for Thanksgiving.

Henry Crossfield wants a big one.

"You have to get over a two-pounder so make it worthwhile. The little ones aren't worthwhile cooking," he said.
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