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Fishery Managers: Dungeness Crab May Be In 'Down Cycle'

OPB | Jan. 7, 2013 8:23 a.m.

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Fishery managers say the Dungeness crab population may be in a down cycle. 

Dungeness crab

Dungeness crab

Washington Dept. Fish and Wildlife

Troy Buell is a crab fishery manager for Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. He says it’s really hard to predict how big the crab catch will be from year to year.

Historically, he says, the catch goes through boom and bust cycles every ten years.

He explained, “And that seems to have been true through the 60s, 70s and 80s, but in recent times that cycle seems to have broken down and now we seem to see just wide fluctuations over a period of three or four years.”

Commercial crabbers are reporting a slow start to the season that started last week (Dec. 31st). Officials say they don’t know whether the catch will pick up.

The crab season was delayed by a month to ensure high quality. But even after that delay, crabbers say their pots are coming up light.

Buell says the crab population can vary based on the available food supply for crab larvae, springtime ocean conditions and the number of predators.

Look for more on this and other environmental stories in Cassandra Profita’s Ecoptrope blog.

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