Delayed crab season hurts Bay Area fishermen, restaurants

Friday, November 27, 2015
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With the start of crab season delayed due to toxic ocean conditions, fishermen and Bay Area crab lovers are out of luck this Thanksgiving.

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. (KGO) -- Turkey typically takes center stage on this holiday, but here in the Bay Area a lot of people are love to have Dungeness crab. Unfortunately, Toxic ocean conditions have delayed the start of the crab season leaving fisherman and crab lovers out of luck.

"We still do have crab omelets, crab benedicts, crab sandwiches, crab Louis, crab cocktails, crab tacos and crab quesadillas," said server Georgina Wright.

There are still plenty of crab items still on the menu at Ketch Joanne's in Half Moon Bay, but it's not local and it's affecting business.

"We're very slow because there's no crab to be bought," said Wright. "I would say 90 percent of people on Thanksgiving are here just to buy crab."

Buy live crab in the marina then stop in for a meal. But some customers can't stay away.

"Tradition is kinda we come eat crab and turkey," said Half Moon Bay resident Scott Skinner. "But this year there's a little problem with crab so we still come down and support our favorite restaurant Ketch Joanne's

While locals are left craving the delicacy, it's the crab fishermen who are really missing out on income.

"They're sitting around, they got house payments and they got bills like everyone else," said fisherman Mike Lyford. "I got the same thing, but lucky I got my little side gig here to keep me a little afloat."

Earlier this month, state officials announced the crab fishing season would be indefinitely delayed because unsafe levels of domoic acid were found in California crab; the outcome of an unprecedented toxic algae bloom.

VIDEO: Oregon, Washington postpone crab season due to toxic algae

The season will not begin until the department of public health gives the okay.

"This could last a long time, who knows," said Lyford.

For Lyford, that means selling the less lucrative rock fish and lingcod off the back of his small fishing boat before calling it a day and spending Thanksgiving with family.