Opinion: Is the Dungeness fishery ill-fated?

Some may wonder if the 2017 Dungeness crab season is ill-fated: First delayed by weeks to make certain crab were scrupulously free of domoic acid toxin, delayed again after processors proposed lowering the price paid to crabbers, and then it started with a capsizing that could have cost five lives except for quick intervention by the Sea Ballad.

Although fishing used to be among the most superstitious of occupations (see tinyurl.com/Fishing-Superstitions for examples), today’s crabbers and other fishermen have to be smart and rational to survive — literally and economically.

Crab around the mouth of the Columbia this season never exceeded safe levels of marine toxin, which they can ingest by eating razor clams and other filter-feeders. But the industry is united in striving to preserve the reputation of Dungeness crab as a pure, delicious, premium product. For this reason alone, it makes sense to be seen as taking every precaution. Affluent Asian consumers are particularly skittish about product impurities.

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About the author

Jessica Hathaway

Jessica Hathaway is the editor in chief of National Fisherman. She has been covering the fishing industry for 13 years, serves on the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute’s Communications Committee and is a National Fisheries Conservation Center board member.

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