The Bodega Bay crab fishing fleet is staying put for now, holding out for a higher price than buyers are willing to pay for their catch.
Some buyers are willing to pay $2.25 per pound, but Bodega Bay crab fishermen and those in San Francisco and Half Moon Bay voted late Friday to stay at their $2.50 asking price.
"It means nobody will be going out - none of our boats from any ports, until we can agree on a price," said Chuck Cappotto, president of the Fishermen's Marketing Association of Bodega Bay.
He said 40 to 60 boats remain in each of the three idled ports as a result of the price dispute, an impasse that has delayed previous crab seasons.
Despite the crab season officially opening on Nov. 15, fishermen in the three ports have refused to go crab fishing until an agreement is reached on price.
Fishermen are asking $2.50 a pound, but some buyers have offered only $2.
One buyer is now offering $2.25 a pound, but it is unclear if that is an offer that will be matched by other buyers and would apply to all fishermen or just a few select boats, Cappotto said.
"What we are concerned about is everyone will go fishing and the price will drop," he said. "Once you get your gear in the water you have lost all leverage, by law you can only keep your gear in the water for 48 hours."
Cappotto said that if a price agreement is reached, then fishermen will then to decide when to go fishing in a way that doesn't give some boats an unfair start.
But he said no progress will be made in the dispute over the weekend, because buyers are not around until then.
"We will try to negotiate more when buyers come back Monday and we will try to have meetings until we can reach agreement," he said.
The boats have been ready to go since Nov. 15, with the crab pots piled on the decks and bait cut and put into jars.
Fishermen are expecting crab to be plentiful this year after a record-smashing catch last year of 19 million pounds in the central California area, which includes Sonoma County.
Crab caught last week as part of a quality test also indicated a meat-to-weight ratio of 24 to 25 percent, which is considered a good quality crab.
The fishing season from Mendocino County north has been delayed until mid December because crab in that fishing area have not passed quality tests.