Californians not getting their Thanksgiving crabs
Crabs were ready for the pot last Thanksgiving season in San Francisco.
November 23rd, 2011
12:47 PM ET

Californians not getting their Thanksgiving crabs

A couple of turkeys got a Thanksgiving pardon from President Obama at the White House on Wednesday, but beneath the Pacific Ocean, thousands and thousands of crabs will be around for a holiday they normally experience from a pot and a plate.

Dungeness crab have traditionally been served on Northern California tables along with the turkey and trimmings for Thanksgiving. This year, however, a price dispute between crab fishermen and processors has left market shelves and restaurant menus bereft of the crustaceans, according to media reports from the Bay Area.

Crab fishermen want $2.50 a pound for their catch, but processors are offering only $2, so the fishermen are staying in port, and traps aren't going into the sea, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

"I feel terrible, because I know everyone loves Thanksgiving crab, but we can't work for nothing," Larry Collins, head of the San Francisco Crab Boat Owners Association, told the Chronicle.

"We're pretty united on this. We can't go unless we all go," he said of the 150 or so crab fishermen on the Northern California coast, according to the Chronicle.

"We are hearing nothing but stories about how this is throwing a monkey wrench into Thanksgiving Day plans. Usually, these disputes last a day or two, but not this long," Keith Fraser, co-owner of Loch Lomond Marina in San Rafael, told the Marin Independent Journal.

"We have hundreds of people asking for crab, and we are disappointing them all," Fraser is quoted as saying.

Fishermen were paid $1.75 a pound last year, according to the Chronicle, but say they need $2.50 this year due to rising costs for fuel, traps and bait.

Joe Cincotto, regional general manager for Pacific Fresh Seafood, told the Marin paper that processors face higher costs, too, and he had little sympathy for the plight of the fishermen.

"I don't think many people are going out and making $10,000 or $15,000 in a day," he told the Independent Journal. "When's enough enough?"

So while the argument continues, most consumers do without.

"They're surprised because it's the first time that we don't have crab for Thanksgiving week," Herson Sariles, seafood team leader at Whole Foods in Monterey, told the Herald of Monterey County. "Actually, besides turkey and pies, for that week I would say it's the third item that people are looking for."

While most shoppers will have to do without Dungeness, customers of the Sea Harvest markets may get lucky.

Owner Lynn Platt told The Herald that the family fishing business run by her brother Richard Deyerle has a few boats in the water and is getting some small supplies to the Sea Harvest markets.

But while Deyerle is happy for his business, he feels for the community as a whole.

"It's awful. There's no volume, so it just creates ill feelings with everyone. We have crabs. That's great. But I don't want bad feelings with people. It's a tricky situation," The Herald quotes him as saying.

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Filed under: Aquaculture • Business • California • Economy • Food • Thanksgiving
soundoff (85 Responses)
  1. PBanta

    Disclaimer: the mental age of the collective male readership of this article will instantly drop to 15. Uh–huh-huh huh-huh-huh...

    November 24, 2011 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
  2. michael

    With all that's going on in this country, let's just be thankful for what we have and enjoy spending time with loved ones. You can fight about prices tomorrow, but today, let's enjoy one another. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

    November 24, 2011 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
  3. Robert

    I had a good friend who sold fish retail in San Francisco. CNN won't let me post the words he used to describe the wholesalers. The fishermen and store owners barely make enough to survive, the wholesalers get rich. Everyone in the fish business on the Pacific coast has lost a loved one at sea. It is only slightly less dangerous than fishing in Alaska, and more dangerous than coal mining. Those men deserve every penny they can get for their catch.

    November 24, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
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