5/23/16 From Seafood.com by Susan Chambers —
Oregon Dungeness crab landings for the 2015-16 season have surpassed those of the previous season, despite a month-long season delay due to domoic acid levels. Total values of crab increased as well.
As of the second week of May this year, 13.7 million pounds of Dungeness have been landed into Oregon ports. The average price is $3.59 per pound, for a total value of $49.3 million, surpassing the 2014-15 season value of $33.7 million.
As usual, the bulk of the landings came early in the season, during the first two months it was open. January’s statewide landings were close to 10 million pounds and nearly 3 million were landed in February. Deliveries have dropped considerably since February, as other fewer crab were available to be caught and other areas opened in California. The highest average price was $5.06 per pound in March, but now hovers around $4.32 in May. The season average price so far is $3.59 per pound.
Crabbers delivered the first loads of Dungeness in January, with average ex-vessel prices ranging between $3.06 and $3.43 per pound that month. Those prices steadily increased as the volume slowed in late February and March.
Washington’s non-tribal crab fleet started fishing in January also, but California’s crabbers missed more than four months of fishing, with some areas finally opening within the last month.
The Astoria area leads the state in landings this year. Roughly 4.4 million pounds of crab have been delivered to Astoria and Warrenton ports for a value of $15 million. Newport is a close second, with 4.1 million pounds and a $15 million value as well. Crabbers delivered 2.7 million pounds of Dungeness to Charleston, resulting in $10 million in total value for the port.
The 2014-15 season in Oregon resulted in lower landings than normal – about 8.2 million pounds, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The average ex-vessel price hit an all-time high of $8.23 in February 2015 and the average price for the season hit a new record of $4.10 per pound. The landings total was similar to the 2000-01 season of 7.4 million pounds.
Both scientists and the West Coast crab industry are paying close attention to ocean conditions this year to determine whether another round of harmful algal blooms may be developing. Some species of phytoplankton can result in domoic acid toxins. Scientists working out of Newport, Ore., this month found the presence of phytoplankton responsible for the production of domoic acid in Oregon waters due to recent upwelling events, but at volumes lower than harmful algal bloom levels.