Dangerous surf is the culprit for Bay Area Christmas crab shortage

Dungeness crab is in short supply this Christmas season.

At the Alioto-Lazio Fish Company on San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf, the crab tanks only have about a third of what they normally hold this time of year.

The crabs in the tank are already spoken for by customers who have pre-ordered them. But those buying last minute for the weekend through Christmas could be out of luck.

"We are sorry but we are completely sold out for Christmas," said Angel Cincotta of the Alioto-Lazio Fish Company. "A boat last week that should have 30,000 pounds brought in 3,000 pounds. That's a big drop.”

The shortage is not due to a declining crab population in Northern California waters. The problem is a dangerous surf.

Remember those monster waves pounding the coast earlier this week? Those conditions have kept many fishing boats from venturing out as often. 

"We went out after the last swell, it wasn't too bad. We didn't lose any gear but a lot of pots were flipped over and there were less pots then we'd seen before," said crab fisherman Nick Krieger.

The big waves also make it harder for fishermen to trap crabs in their pots and often they go back into deep crevices and wait for the storm to pass. 

At Sabella and La Torre's restaurant and market, the owner is hopeful the swells will die down enough over the weekend and the fishing boats will go out.

"Our local people like it live. They like to cook it themselves or put in the ciopinos themselves. So that will be the question for Christmas Eve morning," said Gina La Rocca, owner of Sabella & La Torre's.

Fishermen tell KTVU they plan on going out Saturday. While there may be hope that more crab will be coming in over the next few days. No one can say for sure yet if it will meet demand.

"If I hadn't pre-ordered I'd really be looking around," said Mark Bauer of Daly City.
Most expect that what crab does come in will most likely be on the expensive side.