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December is go-time for crabbing because the crabs have regrown their hard shells that they shed over the summer. (Photo credit: Justin Bailie)
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Commercial crabbers around the state ready their boats and pots for December, which is when the state usually gives the green light on harvesting the succulent crustaceans.
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Chef John Newman of Newman's at 988 eats a Dungeness crab that he caught and cooked in Garibaldi. (Photo credit: Greg Robeson)

Attention crab lovers: Dungeness season will come to Oregon, but not quite yet. The state announced just before Thanksgiving that once again, Dungeness crabbing is closed to recreational and commercial fishermen due to an elevated level of domoic acid in the waters all along the Oregon Coast. The season may reopen in early 2017, so check the state’s shellfish safety page before you go. 

The upside is that despite the closure, it’s safe to eat crab and shellfish products purchased from retail markets and restaurants.

Most years, December is go-time for the crabs because they have regrown their hard shells that they shed over the summer. “The crabs are done with their molting, and they are in their best condition,” says Robert Anthony, captain of the Liberty II out of Newport. “The crabs need to be full of meat, and they have to meet certain weight requirements.”

All that delicious meat doesn’t just taste good; it’s something you can feel good about eating. Oregon has the only sustainable Dungeness fishery in the world certified by the Marine Stewardship Council. Commercial fishermen and enthusiasts alike are only allowed to keep male crabs measuring 5 ¾ inches across the shell. Females and smaller crabs must be returned to the sea to ensure healthy populations.

Anthony, who also owns Luna Sea Fish House in Yachats, is readying the winter menu as well. During Dungeness season, Luna Sea serves crab cocktail, a crab melt sandwich and a crab dinner, which consists of a whole crab, drawn butter, fries, sourdough garlic toast and house-made coleslaw. They also ship crab and other fresh Oregon seafood anywhere.

Enjoy fresh crab here and at other restaurants up and down the Coast, including South Beach Fish Market in Newport and Tony’s Crab Shack in Bandon. 

Beyond the holidays, mark your calendar for the Yachats Lions Annual Crab Feed in January, Newport Seafood & Wine Festival in February, Astoria Warrenton Crab Seafood & Wine Festival in April and the Charleston Seafood Festival in August.

Get started crabbing:

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Crabbing Information

Crabbing 101

about author Eileen Garvin

Eileen Garvin lives and writes in Hood River. When she’s not hunched over her keyboard or digging in the garden, you can find her mountain biking, kiteboarding, hiking, skiing or camping somewhere in Oregon.

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These maps and directions are for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic, or other events may cause road conditions to differ from the map results. For travel options, weather and road conditions, visit tripcheck.com, call 511 (in Oregon only), 800.977.6368 or 503.588.2941.

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  1. Rhonda says…

    Is there Any crab festivals near Portland OR? possibly in September? phoenix people will be visiting either eugene ORg or portland Oregon during trhat time scoping oregon possibe future moving from AZ Thanks

    Written on May 20th, 2014 / Flag this Comment
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