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Crab fishermen await calm seas and a set price

  • Ted Frank loads crab pots onto the "Dandy" at the Tides Wharf in Bodega Bay on Monday. Fishermen have delayed the start of the season while prices are negotiated.

BODEGA BAY - The decks were stacked high with crab pots Monday as the fishing fleet sat idly in Bodega Bay awaiting a price agreement, calmer seas and the start of the season.

About 45 boats were clustered at Spud Point Marina, most local but some from as far away as Oregon as fishermen secured lights, chopped bait for bait jars and talked in small groups in anticipation of the Tuesday start to the commercial crab season.

"It is always the same thing, wait until the last minute," said Jeff Genovese of Bodega Bay, owner of La Dolce Vita. "It puts everybody on edge."

2011: Crab Fishing In Bodega Bay

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Fishermen are asking for $2.50 a pound and buyers are offering $2, according to Chuck Cappotto of Gualala, president of the Fishermen's Marketing Association of Bodega Bay.

"We are confident the crab will be good, the quality good and we want a fair price," Cappotto said.

Last year, the season opened with fishermen getting $1.75 a pound and ended with the price at $4.

The ocean Monday was too rough for the fleet to launch, consisting mostly of boats 40 to 50 feet, and the weather was not expected to break until Thursday.

"The season will start when the season starts," said Jeff French of Morro Bay. "It's a matter of being patient, letting the thing sort itself out."

Last year was by far the highest catch on record, 19 million pounds for Central California, a region stretching from Sonoma County and south; an average catch is 5.6 million pounds of crab.

Bodega Bay fishermen unloaded 2.2 million pounds of Dungeness in November and December alone, compared to just 181,971 pounds during the same months in 2009, according to the state Department of Fish and Game.


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