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Crab Dispute Ends After Agreement Reached on Dungeness Price

As many as 50 boats are preparing to head out tonight, putting fresh crab back on Bay Area menus by the weekend.

Dozens of Bay Area crab boats are preparing to head out to sea again after a weeklong standoff over the price of fresh Dungeness crab ended today, an industry spokesman said.

Crab fishing boats in San Francisco, Bodega Bay and Half Moon Bay had been idle since Dec. 5, when dockside fish brokers tried to offer a price below $3 per pound for Dungeness crab, said Larry Collins, president of the Crab Boat Owners Association in San Francisco.

Collins said this afternoon that an agreement has been reached between fishermen and brokers that would put crab boats back in operation and fresh crab back on Bay Area menus.

"We got the $3 per pound we were asking for," Collins said.

Angel Cincotta, a spokeswoman for San Francisco-based fish broker Alioto-Lazio Fish Company, confirmed the agreement and said fresh crab would start showing up in supermarkets and restaurants by Friday.

Collins said he and other fishermen are spending this afternoon preparing their boats to head out early Wednesday morning.

"We're heading out tomorrow," he said.

John Draper, assistant harbormaster at Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay, said as many as 50 boats were preparing to head out as early as tonight.

"They're all going to head out at midnight," he said.

Crab season opened in Bay Area fisheries on Nov. 15 and runs through June, according to the Department of Fish and Game.

— Bay City News

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Day-Oh December 12, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Let me see if I understand this correctly. The original wholesale price struck was $3/lb., but that put the retail price at a level that shoppers would not support, resulting in a glut of unsold crab and a collapse of demand following Thanksgiving. The wholesalers tried to reduce the price to a point that would stimulate retail demand and the crabbers went on strike for the higher (apparently unsustainable) price. After 11 days on strike, they agreed again on the original price. How exactly do they think this will change the original problem of soft demand due to too high a retail price? I'm not buying crab at $6.95 to $7.95 a pound!
Dan Blick December 13, 2012 at 06:04 PM
"Unsustainable" for whom? If $3/lb was truly unsustainable for the wholesalers, they wouldn't have agreed to it. If the crab isn't selling because the price is too high, then both wholesalers and retailers should reduce their prices. The fishermen are saying that a price of less than $3 per pound isn't sustainable *for them*. They're the ones who are risking their lives, going without sleep, paying for boats, licenses, etc., and doing the cold & dangerous work of bringing the crab up from the ocean floor, and they're the ones most affected by the high cost of fuel, and the environmental impact on fisheries. These are the same men & women who used to make a decent living with salmon during the summer -- until the salmon population collapsed. I can understand your reluctance to pay $6.95/lb -- so come on out to Pillar Pt. Harbor and buy some crab off the boat (probably for $5/lb). Talk to the fishermen. See what their $3/lb is doing for them, and where that money is going. Maybe you can convince them that they're asking for too much. Even at a retail price of $6.95/lb, the wholesale price of $3/lb is only 43%, so I hope you're also asking the wholesalers and retailers to take less on *their* 57% in order to stimulate demand.

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