COOS BAY Contrary to early reports that proclaimed Oregons Dungeness crab fishery a bust shortly after the twice-delayed season opened back in January, landings are approaching 17 million pounds for the first 12 weeks of the 81/2 month-long season.
Worth in excess of $43 million to crabbers from Astoria to Brookings, the harvest has already exceeded the 2011-12 seasons total of 14.2 million pounds and is some 5 million pounds above the long-term average, which is slightly above 12 million pounds.
For the first time in years, fishermen in Brookings are at the front of the pack, with landings of 4.7 million pounds worth $12.1 million. The ports of Newport, Astoria and Charleston round out the top four ports, from a production and catch-value standpoint.
The export market for live crab has cooled down somewhat, after a big expansion last year that pushed the boat price of Dungeness up to previously unseen levels as the season progressed and landings decreased. The domestic market seems to be holding its own as word about the culinary merits of the West Coasts favorite shellfish continues to resonate around the country.
Calling it the King of Crustaceans, Bon Appétit magazine recently ranked Dungeness crab 20th on its list of 25 food trends for 2013.
Oregons Dungeness fishery is the only one in the range to have achieved Marine Stewardship Council certification, the global standard for well-managed and sustainably harvested fisheries.