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North Coast crab fishermen headed back to work as price dispute ends

North Coast fishermen planned to resume crab fishing today after buyers agreed to increase the price to $3 a pound.

By Thursday, fresh local crab should be back in markets.

It is the same price that fishermen were getting when the season opened Nov. 15 on the Central Coast, from Morro Bay to the Gualala River.

"It is a fair price for everyone," said Chuck Cappotto, president of the Fisherman's Marketing Association in Bodega Bay, which set today's resumption of the crab season.

Fishermen in Bodega Bay, San Francisco and Half Moon Bay stopped fishing Dec. 2 after the price dropped to $2.50 a pound when demand softened after Thanksgiving.

"The best part is the three ports stood together," said fisherman Tony Anello of the Spud Point Crab Co. in Bodega Bay. "We were not asking for the moon, we were just asking to maintain the price."

Fishermen said the wholesale price dropped because there was an overabundance of crab on the market following Thanksgiving, a holiday after which demand usually falls off until Christmas and New Years.

"For some of the major buyers, there was a glut that came in all at one time and they had to go into the freezer for a short term," Anello said.

Buyer Michael Lucas, president of North Coast Fisheries in Santa Rosa, said that excess goes into the frozen market, which is much more price sensitive.

The demand for fresh crab has picked up again, Lucas said.

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