LONG BEACH — Tests conducted in late October found Dungeness crab in Washington state’s crucial south coastal areas already are above minimum required meat-recovery percentages. They also are well on their way to having hard enough shells for the traditional Dec. 1 commercial season opener.

Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife completed optional October pre-season tests in the Long Beach Test Area on Oct. 22, while all the stations in the Westport Test Area were completed late on Oct. 26.

Long Beach area crab had meat recovery of 23.8 percent and Westport was at 24 percent. In Long Beach waters, 63.9 percent had reached marketable shell hardness, while around Westport the percentage was 61. Off the Long Beach Peninsula, 38.9 percent of crab were in the unmarketable Grade II classification, meaning there was some flex in both body and legs. In Westport waters, 36.1 percent were Grade II. No south Washington crab were in the poorest category of Grade III. Shell hardness was similar to last year at the same time.

This year’s crab are not quite at meaty as they were last year at about the same time, when south coast tests neared 27 percent. But this year’s meat levels are markedly better than in several other recent years, when crab were slow to achieve a legal-minimum 23 percent.

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