It’s official: Dungeness crab fisherman along the west coast are on strike. Crabbers have made the unprecedented agreement to not set or pull pots-- until they get the price they demand.
John Corbin lives on the Columbia River and he’s been crab fishing for 40 years. He’s also Chairman of the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission. He’s seen plenty of strikes, but never this kind of unified decision to tie up boats and not deliver crab. He just heard Washington tribal fishermen have joined the strike.
Corbin: “We’ve been on the phone with all of the fisherman on the west coast here for the last week and we don’t know of anyone who is fishing.”
Corbin says right around Christmas, crab processors dropped the price to $2.75 a pound. State sponsored negotiations did not result in a price increase. What all these striking crabbers want, Corbin says, is three bucks a pound.
Corbin says it costs a lot to run a fishing boat. And now, the strike is costing too.
Corbin: “We’ve got approximately 1,200 crab boats on the entire west coast that are tied up. That equates to 4 to 5,000 fishing families. And then with all the processors, their workers are not working to process crab. Truck drivers are not trucking crab. You’ve probably got 7 or 8,000 families that are affected by this.”
Corbin says crabbers are ready to go to work but they will stay docked until they get the price they feel they deserve.