Story and photos by Kiera Morgan
The blessing of the Crab Fleet is taking place as they ready their gear for this season. The crab season officially starts at 12:01am on Monday but the crabbers get to go out 3-days prior to set their crab pots. This is known as dump day. The crab boats are all loaded with the pots that we have seen stacked up around the port over the past month. Starting Monday January 4th locals and visitors will see the crab boats crossing the bar and out in the ocean pickup up and resetting their pots. They then bring the crab in for processing. This delay has actually turned out to be a blessing as December was wrought with the El Nino storms. If the crab gear had been out during those storms there is a good chance the fishermen would have lost thousands of dollars worth of gear, not to mention the safety aspect of being out in the ocean during the high wind and heavy swells of the ocean. The crab season usually starts on December first and is a month late due to the testing done by ODFW and the Oregon Department of Agriculture for domoic acid. Now one thing I want to point out is that the amount of Domoic Acid along the central and north coast in the crab was below the alert level. In the south coast however there were some signs of higher elevations of domoic acid just above the alert level. For this reason ODFW, ODA and the crab commission decided to delay the season. Shellfish toxins are produced by algae and originate in the ocean. Crabbing is often a family business and over the past several months’ wives, sons and daughters, aunts, uncles and cousins have been readying the vessels and preparing the crab pots for the season. We are very grateful this year to our congressional delegation and for the diligence and dedication of the Newport Fishermen’s wives that enabled the funding to continue to keep the Coast Guard helicopter stationed in Newport for the next two years. The brave men and women at Coast Guard station Yaquina Bay and the helicopter are essential to the fishing and crab fleet and have saved numerous lives. We thank Coast Guard station Yaquina Bay personnel for all that they do and we wish a bountiful harvest to the crab fleet.