Crab for Christmas: Fisherman's Market gets load from Washington amid Oregon closures

Fisherman's Market gets 2,500 pounds of Dungeness Crab from Washington coast, as ODFW extends Oregon commercial crabbing closures. Photo by Audrey Weil.

EUGENE, Ore. -- Commercial crabbing season is still on hold in Oregon.

On Thursday, the Department of Fish and Wildlife decided to delay the season even further, now pushing the start date back from December 31 to January 15.

That means local restaurants are forced to get their Dungeness Crab from out-of-state.

"it is our number one seller," Fisherman's Market owner Ryan Rogers said in December, crab accounts for 25 percent of their sales. "As we say it's always crab season somewhere and we go to wherever we have to to get crab for our customers."

This year, they're going a ways, 270 miles from Westport, Washington.

Rogers calls it "the only show in town" because there's no crab fishing in Oregon right now.

This is the third year in a row of commercial crabbing season delays, either from too little meat in the shells or too much biotoxin.

"On a normal year which we haven't had for a while, we'll buy 10 to 12,000 pounds of live crab in the week before Christmas," Rogers said. "This year we're getting about 2,500 pounds."

That shipment came in Thursday afternoon and will be for sale starting the Friday before Christmas.

Fisherman's Market is the largest independent Dungeness Crab retailer in the entire state, and even they're grateful to have any crab at all.

"I called the buyer again this morning because we're not getting as much as we had hoped, asked if we could come back up tonight to get more tomorrow and he said he is so overextended on his sales that I should consider myself lucky," Rogers said.

Considering the limited supply, skyrocket for demand, and travel costs to even get them here, the crabs are about double the price at $11.99 a pound versus about $5.99 once they can be caught and sold out of the Oregon coast.

Until then, Rogers said they're just glad to have something here for Christmas, the busiest crab time of the year.

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