3-Minute Market Insight
EP 370 | Aired January 22, 2018
Further Delays to Dungeness Crab Fishery - Price Negotiations, Domoic Acid, Terrible Weather

January 22, 2018 - Price negotiations continue to delay commercial harvests of Dungeness crab in Oregon, even after the federal negotiation window has closed. The 2016-2017 Dungeness crab season landed 20.4 million pounds with the highest-ever record ex-vessel value of $63 million, averaging $3.08 per pound.

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These landings are about 22 percent above the 10 year average of 16 million pounds. This year, the season opened January 15th North of Cape Blanco in Oregon, after a month delay from the originally planned opening of December 15th. The thin stretch of ocean south of Cape Blanco is still closed due to trace amounts of domoic acid present. The late opening meant no crab was avaialble for Christmas or New Years and landings this month are likely to be destined for freezers.

We spoke to Hugh Link at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, who elaborated that no price settlement and terrible weather conditions has delayed any movement in the fishery. Hugh also confirmed that there is no stock assessment for dungeness crabs in Oregon, "only mother nature knows" how harvests will go this year as ups and downs are expected in the cyclical fishery. Many processors are making offers to boats after the government regulated price negotiation window closed, but fishermen have banded together to wait for a better price outlook. Fishermen are hesitating as the meat fill-in is low so harvests will be worth less on the gross weight, as well as the worry that processors may renege on orders.

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--- Until prices settle, frozen inventories are fairly bare with limited availability on new offers while we wait for 2018 production. 1.5 - 2 pound Whole cooked brine frozen dungeness crab has strengthened since the fall, with current pricing near $6.70 per pound. Larger dungeness in the 2 - 2.5 pound size are around $7.25 per pound right now in Seattle. Dungeness crab sections or clusters have had less price volatility as of late, strengthening from $7.65 per pound in September to $7.90 this month.

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