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‘Best ever’ crab season at Bodega Bay

Friday, March 4th, 2011 | Posted by
Veteran fisherman Harold Ames calls this year’s crab season “the best ever at Bodega Bay,” and with his considerable experience, he should know.
Ames began fishing with his father in 1941, when he was just a boy.
“I didn’t know any better,” said Ames, one of the most respected fishermen in the West Coast industry.
“He’s right,” said Stan Carpenter, his nephew and a member of the state Salmon Stamp Committee, which invests in salmon restoration projects.
“When the numbers are finally in at the end of the season in June, I think we’ll see all records broken.”
That’s not the only good news for a beleaguered industry. The price of crab has been good for the fishermen this bumper-crop year. And, more important, the critical salmon season may reopen this year.
The reopening is “almost certain” after five years of severe restrictions and closures due to poor spawning runs, said Chris Lawson, president of the Bodega Bay Fishermen’s Marketing Association.
The situation got so drastic that government disaster relief was provided to the fishermen after they were forced off the water.
“It was the worst possible season for Bodega Bay to lose,” said Ames. “The future of fishing at Bodega Bay depends on salmon.”
Lawson said agencies blamed ocean conditions for the poor runs, “but a lot of us are convinced it was the pile driving on the Carquinez Bridge construction. The river is narrow there and the driving went on 24/7. Each time, it’s like an underwater explosion. Some of the workers reported seeing dead fish floating in the area.”
All are relieved an end may be in sight. “We’re fairly sure we’ll get July, August and September back,” Carpenter said.

Harold Ames

Lawson concurs. “I think we’ll see a season comparable to 2005, our last good year.”

The state and federal agencies meet this month and in April will announce the new season. In the meantime, fishermen say, the fleet is very happy to keep hauling in crab to a market hungry for the delicacy.

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Andrea Granahan is our Bodega area correspondent.
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