After long delays, commercial crab season in CA is finally opening on December 31st. That means that the beloved local Dungeness crab will be available just in time for your New Year’s Eve feast and throughout the spring.
Starting on December 31st, you’ll be able to purchase local Dungeness crab at grocery stores, fish markets, and directly from fishing boats at SF’s Fisherman’s Wharf.
Despite the excitement, some tough restrictions are in place this season. All fishing south of the Sonoma/Mendocino county line (fishing zones 3-6) are under a 50% reduction in traps. The goal of this reduction is to help reduce the risk of entanglement with humpback whales during a busy migration north from Baja California.
The department is planning to conduct a risk assessment in mid-January to re-evaluate the commercial crab trap reduction.
Today, the Dungeness crab is synonymous with San Francisco cuisine but was considered a pest up until the late 1800s. The shift occurred when Italian fishermen immigrated to the area and showed SF what they were missing. They set up cauldrons of boiling water to cook and serve the crabs in little paper cups at Fisherman’s Wharf. This sweet and briny treat was an instant hit with both locals and tourists alike. From there, Dungeness crab found its way into local Italian and Chinese restaurants, where it continued to grow in popularity. Now, it’s hard to imagine SF without this tasty crustacean.
If you’re interested in buying crab directly from fishing boats, the off-boat fish and crab sales page is an excellent resource for finding and connecting with the fishing boats.