Crab Opener

Boats are docked and loaded with pots in late December 2018 at the Charleston Marina as commercial fisherman waited for word on the opening of Dungeness crab season on the Oregon Coast. The commercial crab season is delayed once again this year, at least until Dec. 16.

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NEWPORT — The opening of the commercial Dungeness crab season will be delayed from Dec. 1 until at least Dec. 16 along the entire Oregon coast as testing shows crab are too low in meat yield, according to a press release from the Oregon Department of Agriculture. 

The target opening of the ocean commercial Dungeness crab season in Oregon is Dec. 1, but can be delayed to ensure a high-quality product to consumers and avoid wastage of the resource. Crab quality testing in early November showed that none of the test areas met the meat yield criteria for a Dec. 1 opening. The delayed opening will allow crab to fill with more meat. 

A second round of crab quality testing will occur in late November or early December, and the results will be used to determine if the season should open Dec. 16, be further delayed, or be split into areas with different opening dates.

Crab were also tested for domoic acid along the entire coast, and all samples were found to be safe for human consumption. However, due to elevated levels of domoic acid detected in razor clams in some areas, testing in Dungeness crab will continue regularly south of Heceta Head.

In conjunction with the delayed ocean commercial season, commercial harvest of Dungeness crab in Oregon bays that are currently open will close at 12:01 a.m. Dec. 1, but may reopen if the ocean commercial fishery opens in December.

Recreational harvest of Dungeness crab in the ocean off Oregon will open Dec. 1 as scheduled in all areas. Recreational crab harvesting is currently open coast-wide in bays and estuaries, and on beaches, docks, piers and jetties. Recreational crabbers should always call the Shellfish Hotline (800-448-2474) or visit ODA’s Recreational Shellfish page for closures before crabbing.

Commercial Dungeness crab is Oregon’s most valuable fishery, according to the ODA. Last year’s delayed season opening still brought in the second highest ex-vessel value ever ($66.7 million) with 18.7 million pounds landed, just above the 10-year average.

Nicholas A. Johnson can be reached at 541-266-6049, or by email at


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