While an 11-day strike kept Dungeness crab fishermen tied up to the dock from Washington state down to Half Moon Bay during what could be a banner year, crabbers in Monterey Bay kept plugging away. It’s not that they’re strike busters (or “scabs”), it’s there are so few crabs in Monterey Bay their continued work doesn’t make that much of an impact.
“It’s been really slow, we’re only getting a couple a crabs per pot even after a long soak,” says Monterey fisherman Mike Ricketts. “The fishermen on strike didn’t seem to mind, or even pay attention. Hardly anybody is fishing down here.”
Monterey Bay fishermen have caught just 14,000 pounds of crab since the season opened Nov. 15, as opposed Half Moon Bay crabbers pulling in 350,000 pounds over the same period. The initial numbers, provided by marine biologist Pete Kalvass with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, are likely on the low side as landing receipts are not digitized and they take a week or two to process. Last year, the crab numbers were 600,000 and 1.7 million pounds, respectively.
Robbie Torrise, owner of Robbie’s Ocean Fresh Seafood in Monterey, purchases all his live Dungeness crab from local fishermen, and needs 700-1,000 pounds to fulfill an order by the end of the week. He hopes the weather breaks and his guy will come through.
“Fresh crab is a crapshoot,” Torrise says. “One day you have them, the next day you don’t. The restaurants I sell to understand that.”