Fishermen eagerly begin commercial season as demand for fresh Dungeness crab spikes

Starting today, you can finally get some fresh Dungeness crab in the Bay Area.

The commercial season has been delayed for a month due to concerns of migrating whales potentially getting caught in fishing nets.

But after getting the all-clear, fishing crews are out working to bring the crab in.

Crews worked furiously loading boats at Pier 45 on Saturday as they prepared to catch this season's Dungeness crab.

For consumers, the month-long delay for fresh local crab is an inconvenience, but for workers, it's a hit in the pocketbook.

“Oh yeah, yeah, the holidays are coming, this and that and everybody was waiting for paychecks last month, so yeah, putting the income of a month is definitely a big deal,“ said Captain Brian Toste.

And with changes in the market over the years, the Dungeness crab harvest is more important than ever.

“We're way more dependent on the crab than we used to be. We used to split our time between salmon, crab, rock cod, albacore. There's not as many salmon as there used to be," says Larry Collins, president of the San Francisco Community Fishing Association.

Fisherman say they're anticipating a good season and expect their pots will be pulled up filled with crabs.

Restaurants like The Grotto at Fisherman's Wharf have had to bring in crab from Washington and Canada to fill the supply gap, and are eagerly awaiting the local catch.

“I would say obviously when you have to have something travel from a state or two away it's going to be not quite the same as when you're pulling it right out of the water giving it to a chef and he's cooking and cleaning it right before your eyes,” said Jordan Boyajian, general manager of The Grotto.

The additional supply that will hit the market is expected to help consumers catch a break, as prices are expected to be lower than the current crab being sold. 

“I would say it could be down drastically about 25%,” said Boyajian.

Fishermen say Bay Area Dungeness crabs are a bit larger than those caught elsewhere.

A couple of crab lovers at Fishman’s Wharf say the potential to pay less and get more is a winning combination.

“Then I'm going to be eating more crab," said Jose Najera. 

Commercial fishing crews begun to bring in their catch officially at 12:01a.m. from miles off the coast.

Crabs started to arrive on the docks before sunrise, and were ready for purchase.