Dungeness crab off the Oregon coast has been a staple in the region for years and a big boost to the coastal economy, and it takes a team effort to make sure everyone is playing by the rules during the commercials season.
On Thursday a U.S. Coast Guard C-27J Spartan flew up from Sacramento to help Guardsmen in Astoria check in with the Dungeness crab fishing fleet.
The crew worked in tandem with a Coast Guard cutter on the Pacific Ocean making sure all boats were crabbing in legal areas.
“Most vessels appear to be transiting right now,” Lt. Commander G.B. Cathey said as he flew over the fleet. "We have a couple that appear to be operating over top some pots.”
At 1,500 feet over the ocean, they have a bird's eye view of where those boats should be.
“It all looks like it is well within the designated fishery area,” Cathey said peering out the cockpit window.
On Thursday, the crew counted roughly 100 boats, most of which were congregated in the Astoria area.
This season did get off to a slow start due to domoic acid and the meat in the crab not filling out as quickly. Crabbers saw the same thing last year but it did not stop a great season for the fleet.
According to the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission, last year’s season brought in 20.4 million pounds worth $62.7 million, about 22 percent above the 10-year average.
The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) announced Thursday that the entire fishery from Cape Blanco to the California border was open.
The agency says crab samples taken from the area show that levels of domoic acid had dropped below the alert level.
ODA and ODFW will continue monitoring marine toxins in crab and shellfish to ensure that the concentrations remain below the alert level.
As for the Coast Guard crew from California, they may make a few more return trips to the Oregon and Washington coast to check in on the fleet as the Dungeness crab season is just getting started.
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