Fresh Monterey Bay crab will have to wait for most people this winter.
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COVID Economy

Crab is finally here! And more is coming

After a series of delays — first for migrating whales and later for price negotiations impacted by COVID-19 — fresh Dungeness crab is available in Santa Cruz and Northern California.

After many months of delays, Santa Cruz residents can finally purchase fresh Dungeness crab.

The crab fishing season was originally set to open before Thanksgiving, but was set back by multiple delays, due first to new state regulations to protect migrating whales, and later to price negotiations between the fishing fleet and wholesale buyers — both of whom were affected by COVID-19’s impact on supply and demand.

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Now, the California fishing fleet, represented by the Half Moon Bay Seafood Marketing Association, has agreed on a price — and fishermen have the all-clear from the state to sail.

“HMBSMA members and almost every other fisherman in our port has stood strong with the rest of the West Coast during these challenging times, and we are pleased to finally be getting to work,” the Half Moon Bay Seafood Marketing Association said in a statement. “We are proud that HMBSMA was an integral part of coordinating with the San Francisco Crab Boat Owners Association and the Bodega Bay Fishermen’s Marketing Association to create the historical organized safe start agreement that is underway right now.”

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“Shoreside businesses, markets and communities that support the fleet are preparing to be ready as they start hauling gear on Wednesday and bringing crab to market & consumers can now plan to enjoy beautiful, local, sweet Dungeness crab that are ripe for harvest.”

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife had delayed the start of crab fishing season three times, largely due to controversial new regulations meant to prevent whale entanglements.

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Then, the California fleet of commercial fishing boats couldn’t finalize price negotiations with big corporate crab buyers, which process and freeze most of the crab caught here.

The obvious factor keeping prices low was COVID-19, which has shuttered restaurants up and down the West Coast. Crab they bought earlier in the year is likely still in their freezers, throwing off the usual balance of supply and demand.

The pricing logjam broke over the weekend, according to the Half Moon Bay association. The final price that was settled on was not disclosed.

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