MONTEREY, California (KSBW) — The year 2020 has been a bad for just about everybody and the seafood industry is no exception. When it comes to crab, it’s usually a question of there being fresh caught in time for Thanksgiving, but this year it looks like there won’t be any for Christmas either.
New crab fishery regulations in effect this year delayed the season opening until Wednesday and now fisherman have gone on strike over price.
“We have no crab and it’s been kind of a tough year for us,” said Gaspar Catanzaro with Monterey Fish Co.
Tuesday was the first day crabbers could drop pots and Wednesday is the first day they could pull them but up and down the West Coast of California no one has dropped one yet.
“There was a meeting with some of the bigger buyers and they didn’t come to an agreement on a price that they feel comfortable with on both sides, so we’re kind of just sticking together up and down the West Coast,” said crab fisherman David Toriumi.
Fisherman have had a tough year with the delay and the bills are piling up but the fleet says it has to unite on the price.
The season opener was delayed this year because of new regulations in place to protect whales and turtles from getting caught in crab pot lines. The Department of Fish and Wildlife says whales have left the area at this point so it should be safe for crabbers to start if they want to. The dispute is not happening at the local level but with the big corporate buyers.
“It’s tough for us smaller guys to kind of jump on board with this because everyone does have smaller markets here, but we have all discussed that later on in the season when demand is low that it could affect us drastically,” said Toriumi about the decision for smaller boats to go on strike too.
Those looking to serve traditional fresh seafood feasts for Christmas are not happy about the current state of the market.
“Eighty percent of our business during this time is crab and the people want it for Christmas and New Year and it’s tough telling them over the phone that we don’t have it, I think a lot of times they don’t believe me,” said Catanzaro.
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