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Commercial Dungeness Crab Fishing Season Begins After Delay

Eric Risberg
AP Photo
In this Nov. 16, 2018 file photo, Fresh Dungeness crabs fill a tank at the Alioto-Lazio Fish Company at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco.

The commercial Dungeness crab fishing season in the San Francisco Bay Area began Sunday after a monthlong delay, allowing fishermen to start hauling in the wiggly crustaceans in time for the holiday season.

Fishing boats began returning through the Golden Gate Bridge with bins packed with crabs and headed to wholesalers at Pier 45, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. 

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife pushed back the season to lower the risk of whales getting entangled in fishing lines. The recreational crab season began Nov. 2 as scheduled.

Boat captains said they saw no whales and faced rough waters on the first day of crab fishing.

“It was rough out there,” said Capt. Aaron Lloyd, whose boat arrived with three plastic bins, each carrying 600 pounds of crabs.

The commercial Dungeness crab industry in California takes in $40 million to $95 million a year. At slow times, there may be 10 or fewer crabs per trap. Short seasons can lead to millions of dollars in losses for crab fishermen.

In recent years, the season has been cut by whales becoming entangled in fishing gear and by elevated levels of domoic acid — a neurotoxin produced by naturally occurring algal blooms — found in some crabs. Consuming the neurotoxin can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps in humans.