Fishermen, buyers concerned about quality of spring crab

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The crab season was supposed to begin last November but a toxin in the water means that only now can fishermen finally lower their pots.

There's another big hurdle unfolding Friday morning.

Fishermen are loaded up and ready to go but are still sitting here and probably will be until mid-week next week.

RELATED: Crab fishermen prepare for long overdue season to start

The boats were cleared to leave at dawn Friday morning but they didn't rush out as expected.

First, the fishermen want to negotiate. "It doesn't make sense to fish if there's not a price, so the market has to test the quality. If everyone goes fishing and there's not a price, then we're going to come in and we are not going to get anything for the crab," fisherman Nick Krieger said.

Boats had agreed on this Thursday night but it's a competitive business and this year has been so tough - no one was quite sure what would happen.

"That's why I woke up to make sure I wasn't the only one that was still asleep and it looks like everybody is waiting," Krieger said.

Fishermen want a price, buyers want to see the crab first. They're used to November crab, not spring crab.

"We are at the end of March, first part of April, where the crabs start to reproduce and they start to get soft and that's what we are concerned about," buyer Jeanette Caito said.

They are going to test the crab Monday and then talk price.

"We have never in history been in a position like this before," Caito said.

In November, the crabs tested positive for domoic acid, a first, so the Department of Fish and Wildlife shut down the season, crippling the fishing industry.

Officials say the crabs are now safe to eat, but will they be good to eat?

"We're just assuming, hopefully, the crabs are going to be good," fisherman Mike Mitchell said. "In November, it is different. The crabs are in different shape. They are always hard and good in November. This is April, this is not November."

If everything goes as planned, the boats could head out Wednesday and you could start looking for crab in your store Thursday or Friday.
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