San Francisco can't keep up with colossal crab catch

Wednesday, November 19, 2014
San Francisco can't keep up with colossal crab catch
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Here's great news for crab lovers. There are crab boats packed with loads they can't unload fast enough.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- If you are hoping to eat crab on Thanksgiving, you'll love this. Crab boats are coming back absolutely loaded to the gills. The only downside is that huge catch is creating a few challenges.

Pier 45 has been dealing with a bottleneck of boats trying to deliver their catch. Several boats are still parked in the bay waiting to deliver their catch and head back out to fish. That means the dock workers will be working past midnight for the fourth day in a row.

Since the beginning of the commercial crab season began on Saturday, an estimated 400 boats have been delivering a steady stream of crab to Pier 45.

"We stayed until 2 or 3 last night," president of the Crab Boat Association Larry Collins said. When we asked him how much sleep he got, he replied, "Not much."

Many boats have been parked in the bay waiting to deliver. Crews are pumping in oxygen to keep their catch alive.

"We just don't have the facilities here to unload any more than we are," skipper Dan Hunt said. He explained in the meantime, "We just sit on crab. Pump on them, keep them alive until the market can take them."

"It doesn't look like there's much crab in Eureka, Crescent City or Brookings, so everybody and their brother came down for this opener," Collins said.

Skipper Brian Kelley and his crew, from Fort Brag hauled in 30,000 pounds in the first three days. This all amounts to plenty of overtime pay for Juan Cornejo who straps rubber bands around the claws of the Dungeness crabs and gets his share of pinches. He said it happens twice a day.

The crabbers are getting $3 a pound and by the time it's shipped, boiled, cracked and put on your plate at the restaurant, the price is about $10.95 a pound.

"Yeah, a lot of good crab this year. It's all 2.5 pounds or bigger. Usually, they're about a pound and a half to two," C.J. Green form Alioto's restaurant said.

Eventually, the crab harvest will thin out and the price will claw its way up. But until then, crab lovers are being encouraged to come and get it.