Dungeness crab is a Christmas tradition for seafood lovers across Southern California. But not this year. A combination of a difficult season and this week’s stormy weather has left the area’s life tanks empty – or even worse, filled with only Maine lobsters (the indignity!).
The first blow from nature was the California Department of Fish and Game delaying the opening of the northern part of the Northern California Dungeness season. The department’s quality tests in the northern fishery found too high a percentage of underweight crabs.
The Dungeness fishery is a model for sustainability – not only are only male crabs allowed to be taken, but they must be of a minimum size and must contain a minimum amount of meat (25% of the body weight is ideal according to the agency).
Because of the lightweight crabs, the start of the season from Sonoma County north, which usually opens around Dec. 1, has been pushed back for a third time and won’t begin until Jan. 15.