Dungeness crabbers in Oregon on strike

Oregon crabbers strike over purchase price

SAN FRANCISCO — Some consumers may have to settle for not-as-fresh Dungeness crab and others could wait a little longer for their first taste of the season as fishermen from Northern California to the Canadian border strike after wholesale buyers sought to lower the purchase price.

In northern Oregon, crabbers who were set to start fishing Sunday will not do so until a deal is reached, said John Corbin, chairman of the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission. In southern Oregon, crabbers who had been fishing have tied up their boats, he said.

On Tuesday morning, approximately 50 crab fishermen will be in Astoria to receive updates on the strike. The meeting will take place at 10 a.m. at Longshoremen's Union ILWU (International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union) Location 491 on Industry Street in Astoria.

The strike started Wednesday after Pacific Choice Seafood in Humboldt County, California, which is owned by Portland-based Pacific Seafood, offered to pay $2.75 a pound for Dungeness crab, said Ken Bates, vice president of Humboldt Fishermen's Marketing Association. Crabbers whose seasons had already opened had negotiated a price of $3 a pound.

On Friday, the strike was extended to include markets in San Francisco and Half Moon Bay, where customers have been able to buy the holiday dinner staple since November due to a season that opened in phases.

Prices were not set in all fisheries because the West Coast commercial Dungeness crab season opened in waves this year, due to elevated domoic acid levels that made the crustacean unsafe to eat.

Crab fishermen who are receiving $3 a pound say they won't let others receive any less for the wildly popular seasonal food.

Spokesmen for Pacific Choice anhd Pacific Seafood did not return requests for comment.


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