There’s reason to revel not just for Flatt but all along the coast, for fishermen and the communities that rely on what the boats bring in during a time of year when tourism revenues wilt. Crab, and the $40 million it has brought the fleet in the past 21/2 months, has become a mainstay, not just as the state’s largest fishery but as a source of income upon which the Oregon Coast has come to rely.
Flatt has been fishing for only two years, so to him, the 18.8 million pounds that boats brought into Oregon ports since the season opened in mid-December is something of a letdown. Last year’s total was 23 million pounds. And, even though the season runs until August, most of the catch comes in during the first eight weeks. So it’s unlikely that this year’s total catch will go much higher than 20 million.
But that’s actually a very good number, said Nick Furman, executive director of the state Dungeness Crab Commission. And, combined with the stable, healthy prices fishermen got for their crab from the time the season opened, the 2010-11 season will go down as a highlight, he said.
“It’s a big shot in the arm,” Furman said. “In any sense of measurement, this is an excellent season.”
Crabbers are happy even though they got a late start. Processors were worried about how much crab might be in the ocean this year and didn’t want to start the year at too high a price, so the fleet grudgingly accepted $1.675 per pound in December, along with a two-week delay.