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. BOMBO

    Stupid CNN blocking my comment. The way I hear it everybody in California has crabs anyway. Stupid surfing hippies.

    November 23, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
  2. The Dude

    Shortage of crabs in California... HA I think not!!!

    November 23, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Kirk

    I thought it was a different kind of crabs. 😉

    November 23, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Robert G

    CARTEL PRICE FIXING BY THE OPERATORS ?!?!?! and the Fed's do nothing about this bunch of bull? Fishermen work really hard and their season for legally fishing is short. I don't care paying a bit more for my crab. I love crab but I can live without it.

    November 23, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  5. **cosmicvox*

    Good News for the Crabs...

    November 23, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. bobcat ( in a hat )

    If you've got crabs, get a jar of blue star ointment.

    November 23, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Denman

    Having a hard time generating sympathy here...

    November 23, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Roca

    Who gives a sh–!

    November 23, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • m

      I do – dungeness crabs are really great.

      November 23, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. m

    That should reduce the itching this year.

    November 23, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Neil Pharr

    Don't kill animals for food – problem solved.

    November 23, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  11. infinitidoug

    I don't want crabs! I'm perfectly happy being healthy!

    November 23, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. banasy©

    What a great headline....!

    November 23, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Semper fi

    Go drop your own pot if you want crabs.

    November 23, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  14. LBW

    This was too good to walk away from. I thought California reigned in crabs and other STD's!

    November 23, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. gung hoe

    First time Ive heard of that combo turkey and crab what is that surf and clouds

    November 23, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
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