December 3, 2013
The commercial Dungeness crab fishing season in Northern California is on hold indefinitely, as fishermen and wholesale buyers continue to haggle over prices.
”We're 50 cents apart,” said local fisherman Dave Bitts. “It looks like, maybe, they just don't really want to buy crabs very bad right now, which means maybe the market is just soft. If that's the case, it doesn't really make any sense to deliver the crabs onto a soft market. If that's the case, we might as well wait.”
While local commercial crab fishermen were given the green light to start fishing Dec. 1, they won't start until wholesale buyers agree to lock into a price. Currently, wholesalers are offering $2.50 a pound, while fishermen are asking for $3, the same price wholesalers agreed to pay in central California, according to Wild Planet Foods President Bill Carvalho.
The pricing standoff is par for the course, according to those in the industry, as fishermen want to lock in the highest possible price and wholesalers -- who already are selling fresh crab caught off San Francisco and the central coast -- don't want to commit to an inflated price when the market will likely soon be flooded with the crustaceans.
”It's not a new game -- they've been doing this since I was a little kid,” said crab fisherman Paul Pellegrini, adding that with hundreds of fishermen and just a few wholesalers in the area, buyers try to present a united front and just wait for some of the fishermen to get restless.