Oregon Coast crabbers say no to closing summer season

CHARLESTON, Ore. -- The West Coast Seafood Processors Association wants to close the summer crabbing season in Oregon, but some local fishermen say there's potential consequences.

JD Evanow is a fourth generation fisherman whose livelihood depends on the summer crabbing season.

"We support our families, our communities; put our kids through school -- all that stuff depends on summertime crab," says Evanow, co-owner of Charleston Crab Shack.

West Coast Seafood Processors Association believes summer crabbing might be depleting the population, and they asked the Dungeness Crab Commission to find out.

"We're worried about dead loss or handling mortality, drop mortality and so forth as fishermen pick through softshell crab during the summer," says association executive director Rod Moore. "As the number of soft shell go up, the mortality gets higher and that has an effect on the upcoming season."

Fishermen like Evanow disagree. "Numbers are down, sure, but that's what crabs do. Cycles come up and they go down and we're in a lower period right now and it will come back. Crab fishing is very sustainable, very manageable and very renewable."

He says he's concerned about the local impact. "So all those millions of dollars that could be generated from April, May, June, July and August are now gone from our coastal community and from the state or Oregon," Evanow adds. "We lost our timber industry and our fishing industry in the same decade. We can't afford to lose another industry."

The commission agreed to seek proposals to conduct the studies on crab mortality, but the fate of the season ultimately lies in the hands of the governor-appointed Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission.

For now, the Commission says this summer crabbing season is still set to begin the second weekend of June.

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